You want to believe when looking at Dwight Howard's mass, a Jameer Nelson pass and Stan Van Gundy coaching at the head of his class.
You want to believe the standings, which have Orlando at the table previously reserved only for the Celtics, Cavaliers and Lakers.
You're even willing to believe amid the in-arena public-address hysterics at a hokey venue that includes a Magic dragon named Stuff.
And yet, there is something that makes one wonder that while this all plays so wonderfully well during January and February and March, where will it all lead in late April and May and June?
To another session of being outclassed by the Pistons in the playoffs?
To another dose of the reality that over-the-top 3-point success cannot be sustained in best-of-seven?
To the same ending that Amare Stoudemire and his perimeter pests have endured annually in Phoenix?
Sure you want to believe, because right now, nothing is hotter than what Van Gundy is leading in Orlando, be it Howard heating up inside or his teammates percolating from the perimeter.
But even while seated at that table with the other current elites, the Magic also finds itself lacking, lacking that one go-to element that can define playoff crunch time.
Ten seconds left.
Team down by two.
With the Lakers, it's Kobe. And it's either a jumper, a dunk or two free throws. All options available.
With the Cavaliers, it's LeBron. Again, with something either from Column A, Column B or Column C.
In Boston, with all due respect to Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, it's Paul Pierce. At the rim. With a flick of the wrist. Or from the line.
With the Magic, though, there is not that singular, do-it-now, do-it-on-your-own, do-it-for-all-of-us presence.
Then there is Nelson, who is moving closer to All-Star level. Yet if it isn't a pull-up jumper, his diminutive stature could have a defining attempt slapped back the other way. Go ahead, name another 5-11 go-to-guy.
And while Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis are more than mere standstill jump shooters, at a moment of truth, an all-or-nothing jumper seemingly would be the preference for each.
That is what separates the Magic.
There's not a Wade. Not a Tayshaun. Not even a Joe Johnson.
Let alone a Kobe, LeBron or Pierce.
In fact, line up the end-game specialists from the Eastern Conference and it would be difficult to make a case for anyone on the Magic beyond Turkoglu, even as Nelson attempts to graduate to that level.
Of course, an argument could be made that the end game for opponents has mostly been coming so early lately that there is no need for such a specialist, that Howard will create enough foul trouble beneath the rim that even the most benign of contact will allow the Magic to get to the foul line when needed.
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