April 28, 2008
Fast Breaks: Magic-Raptors
By Marty Burns
Game 5   Leaders
Magic win series 4-1   Points Rebounds Assists
102 92
Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images
• Move aside, Shaq and Penny. There's a new chapter in Magic playoff history.Orlando advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time since 1996, ending a string of six straight first-round ousters, with its Game 5 victory over the Raptors on Monday night.

Led by Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson, the Magic were just too much all series for Toronto. They dominated inside and on the backboards. It evoked shades of those old Magic teams, and had to have felt especially good for coach Stan Van Gundy, especially since it came on the same day that his former boss Pat Riley (who once bumped him from the same job with the Heat) stepped down in Miami.

• Howard was the story of the series. The fourth-year center had 21 points and 21 rebounds in Game 5 to once again lead the way for his team. For the series he had three games of 20/20, and another in which he had eight blocks (Game 4). Those are humongous numbers, the kind that define truly great players. He still has to show he can do it in the later rounds, but it was worthy of that Superman nickname.

• Going into the series, much of the focus was on three-point shooting. The Magic and Raptors ranked near the top of the league in that category, and many expected a free-flowing high-scoring series. But in the end, the superior Magic inside game proved the difference. Chris Bosh and the Raptors just couldn't get enough points or rebounds inside against Howard and Co.

• The Raptors showed some toughness by fighting back in several games, but they have to be disappointed. They need some inside help for Bosh, who settles too often for jumpers because he gets tired of banging inside. Andrea Bargnani continued to struggle as he has all season. Now the question in Toronto is whether Sam Mitchell will be back. It is doubtful Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo would make a change, especially since Mitchell still has three years remaining on his contract. But if Mike D'Antoni (his former coach in Phoenix) becomes available, who knows?

• With the Pistons fighting for their lives against the Sixers, the Magic should be well-rested for the second round. They definitely look more like a viable candidate to make it to the conference finals than they did a week ago. Wonder how Billy Donovan is feeling right now.

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