The Orlando Magic are 10-4 since a pair of December megatrades that overhauled their roster in the middle of a playoff race, and they're still only 4 1/2 games off the Celtics' pace for first place in the Eastern Conference.
The deals, one with the Suns to acquire Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson and another with the Wizards to bring in Gilbert Arenas, may have hurt the Magic in a lot of ways. They may have lost some size, they may have lost some defensive chops, and they may even have lost a little of that "mental toughness" factor, although that's not easily measured.
But no matter — Stan Van Gundy's squad keeps on winning. And there's at least one person who's not surprised at how quickly the Magic have adjusted on the fly — that would be Doc Rivers, whose Celtics take on the Magic for the second time on Monday night.
"I didn't think it was going to be as hard as everybody made it out to be," Rivers said of the Magic's transformation. "It's not like they were going to change the way they played. I think those are the teams that struggle, when they change their whole format and how they're going to play. I don't think it's that difficult if you can continue to play your same style. So I didn't think it would take that long."
Turkoglu was a big part of Orlando's deep playoff runs in 2008 and '09, and his homecoming has been unsurprisingly smooth. He's started every game since coming back to the Magic on Dec. 18, returning to his familiar old role as the playmaking forward boasting versatility on both ends.
Richardson has started all 18 contests as well, and he's shooting the lights out to the tune of 42.5 percent from long range. He's averaging 15.3 points per game while seeing fewer touches than ever before in his career.
Arenas has come off the bench, but he's been an X-factor as a reserve scorer, threatening to go off every night. He dropped 22 points in 32 minutes in a Dec. 28 win over Cleveland, and he's scored in double figures four other times despite limited minutes.
This Magic team is different from the one that took the Celtics to six games in the Eastern Conference finals last spring. On paper, many expected it to be worse, but it hasn't exactly played out that way. Look for the new-look Magic to make some noise at the Garden on Monday night.
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