24 July 2007

Whit Watson: Donaghy's Impact on the Magic Could Have Been Huge

Corrupt NBA referee Tim Donaghy's influence on the Magic and the Heat may have been greater than first imagined.
Photo by Haraz N. Ghanbari, the Associated Press

More information keeps coming out in the Tim Donaghy case, and Whit Watson of Sun Sports examined it with a focus on the two Florida teams: the Magic and the Heat. Watson's analysis puts into perspective just how much Donaghy could have altered the fate of a franchise. As he points out, if Donaghy affected the outcome just one of the Magic games he officiated, the Magic would be 41-41. The Washington Wizards and the New Jersey Nets had the same records, which means a series of tiebreakers would determine playoff seeding :
According to the NBA, the process for breaking a three-way tie is to first determine which team has the best regular-season record against the other two. Orlando and Washington were 2-2 against each other last season; Washington was 0-4 against the Nets, while the Magic were 2-2 against New Jersey. So it's Orlando and New Jersey atop the tiebreaker at 4-4, with the Wiz slipping behind them at 2-6.

The next tiebreaker is conference record. Since the Nets had the better Eastern Conference mark than the Magic, New Jersey keeps the 6 seed, but Orlando moves up to 7th. Again, all things being equal, that's a first-round matchup against the 2nd-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers instead of the top-seeded Detroit Pistons.

The Magic went 0-4 against Detroit in the regular season last year, and not surprisingly, got swept by the Pistons in the first round as well.

But the Cavs?

Orlando beat the eventual Eastern Conference champs in two out of three regular season meetings.


Point being, an Orlando-Cleveland series would have been competitive. A hell of a lot more competitive than the Orlando-Detroit series. The Magic would have had a shot.

What if Orlando wins that series?


There's much more at the link, and it's well worth reading. Kudos to Whit Watson for thinking all this through; it makes my take on it feeble by comparison.

For more on the Tim Donaghy scandal (Donaghygate?), I recommend these ESPN.com items:

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