Thank you, Indiana Pacers.
Thank you for what you did on Tuesday night.
Thank you for beating the Magic 105-87 and doing what needed to be done long ago.
Thank you for putting Orlando players, coaches and fans out of their misery.
Thank you for putting an end to this distressing, depressing, dysfunctional season.
It is over.
Has there ever been a playoff team in which its fans seemed more relieved than bereaved that the season was over? In fact, if they were honest about it, Magic players and Coach Stan Van Gundy probably would admit that deep down there is a little part of them that is happy it's over, too. Even though Van Gundy went down coaching his guts out, and his players (see Jameer Nelson 27 points) went down playing their hearts out, this was a total mismatch.
They had no chance in this series — none. The Pacers had the advantage at virtually every position throughout this series. And that is a clear indictment of a roster that general manager Otis Smith has put together. Even with Dwight Howard, the Magic would have been ousted in the first round by the Pacers, much like they were by the Hawks last year.
Disturbingly, this season ends like it began — only worse. At the beginning of the season, Magic fans were resigned to the fact that Howard, their franchise center, soon would be gone. Now, sadly, there is a sense that not only will Howard — the best player the Magic have ever had — be gone, but so, too, will Van Gundy — the best coach the Magic have ever had.