It started two weeks ago, when Deanna Gugel, writing for Brian Schmitz's Magic Basketblog, posted some preseason NBA rankings she gleaned from preview magazines. Athlon bore good news; Lindy's did not.
The same day, TSN Canada's Tim Chisholm wrote this fairly non-committal article about the Magic, in which he summarizes the offseason and predicts, "The last couple of playoffs spots in the East are going to be hard-won by whichever teams wind up with them," before writing that Dwight Howard is an "enviable presence" to have in a playoff race. He stops just short of saying the Magic will make the playoffs.
Not even a week later, ESPN's Marc Stein wrote that the Magic had the third-best offseason in the Eastern Conference, trailing only the Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons.
Today, Gugel posted more predictions, this time from the NBA annual published by The Sporting News in conjunction with Street & Smith. That publication has the Magic finishing in seventh in the conference, based on a mathematical formula. Our playoff opponent, according to that formula, would be -- are you ready for this? -- the Detroit Pistons. Like we haven't seen enough of them in the playoffs already.
If The Sporting News is to be believed, the Jameer Nelson and the Magic will have to endure another playoff series with the Pistons next April.
Photo by Gary W. Green, the Orlando Sentinel
But bloggers are having their say as well. ShamSports.com, irreverent as ever, writes that "the most realistic expectation" for the Magic is "a low playoff seed once again." A grim prediction, but one well worth reading, as it will make you laugh... and possibly cry.
Finally, Tom Ziller posted the Southeast Edition of his NBA Festivus series, complete with The Airing of Grievances and Festivus Miracles. It's the most positive assessment of the Magic yet, as it has them winning the division and getting the 4th playoff seed. Like ShamSports, it's an amusing and informed look ahead to the NBA season.
UPDATE - not long after I posted this entry, Black and Blue registered his season preview, which is also Magic-positive.
I'll try to update this post with preseason predictions from various news sources and blogs as they become available. Stay tuned.