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Top 5 Magic Playoff Wins Officiated by Dick Bavetta

2014 August 19
by Adam Papageorgiou


After 39 years of officiating games in the National Basketball Association, Dick Bavetta is finally retiring his whistle. The 74-year-old from Brooklyn, New York is stepping away from his job as probably the most recognizable NBA official in the league’s history. Whether that’s a positive or negative statement I’ll leave that up to you.

Over my lifetime I have found myself disagreeing with Bavetta’s officiating decisions on countless occasions over a wide variety of Magic games. It’s rather easy to shout disapproval when the individual’s first name you’re yelling can easily be used in a cursing manner.  But you don’t survive a profession for so many years – including a ref scandal – without being good at your job and being admired by your peers. Dick was known as the Cal Ripkin Jr. of refereeing with that 2,635-game officiating streak he held.

I’ve created a Top 5 list of the best Orlando Magic playoff games that Bavetta officiated. No coincidence, that all of these contests resulted in Orlando victories. Dick’s officiated 270 playoff games, these are the ones that matter to Magic fans.


Honorable Mention

May 12, 1996 – Orlando Magic @ Atlanta Hawks

Game 3 Result: Magic Win 103-96

Series: Magic Lead Eastern Conference Semifinals 3-0


After sweeping the Detroit Pistons in the 1st Round, Coach Brian Hill’s team took care of business in the first two home games at the O-Rena. The Magic were primed to make another trip to the NBA Finals, and the Hawks weren’t about to slow them down in this Game 3 contest at the Omni Coliseum. Brian Shaw was the only Magic bench player to score with 5 points. It wasn’t a worry though because each Orlando starter had 15+ points. Shaquille O’Neal led the way with 24 points and 12 rebounds, Anfernee Hardaway notched 21 points and 6 assists, and Horace Grant added 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists.

Atlanta had double-digit contributions from their starters as well. Christian Laettner had 26 points, Grant Long posted 13 & 13, while Mookie Blaylock notched 20 points and 8 assists. The contest was tied entering the 4th quarter as the Magic won the period 21-14. Orlando won the rebounding battle 39-31 and had slightly better shooting percentages. Atlanta would take Game 4 to stay alive in the series, but the Magic would send Atlanta fishing by winning Game 5 in O-Town and punching their ticket to another Eastern Conference Finals.


Below is the Top 5 List.



April 28, 1995 – Boston Celtics @ Orlando Magic

Game 1 Result: Magic Win 124-77

Series: Magic Lead Eastern Conference 1st Round 1-0


This is the Magic’s first ever playoff victory in franchise history. It’s also the first win a postseason that would find Brian Hill’s bunch reaching the NBA Finals. Clearly there were frustrations from being swept 3-0 by the Pacers in the previous year. From the get-go, Boston looked to be in for a gory series. Orlando led 30-13 after the 1st quarter. The second period is about even, then Orlando puts their foot on the gas and take the third and fourth quarters 34-20 and 36-21. The O-Rena crowd witnessed a bludgeoning.

It’s a pretty box score if you’re a Magic fan. Eight Orlando players scored in double figures. Shaq led the way with 23 points and 11 rebounds. There’s a lesson in this though, you don’t get extra victories for winning in blowout fashion. Orlando would drop Game 2 at home before taking Games 3 and 4 in Boston to close out The Garden.



April 26, 2008 – Orlando Magic @ Toronto Raptors

Game 4 Result: Magic Win 106-94

Series: Magic Lead Eastern Conference 1st Round 3-1


In what was a tight affair in front of a raucous Air Canada Centre crowd, Orlando would utilize a 33-20 fourth period to claim the win. Dwight Howard may have had 19 points, 16 rebounds, and 8 BLOCKS, but Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu drilled some clutch jumpers down the stretch. Sweet Lew has 27 points and 13 rebounds while Turk tallied 18 points, 9 boards, 4 assists, and 3 steals. Chris Bosh played an outstanding series for Toronto that included 39 points and 15 rebounds in Game 4. Stan Van Gundy just had the better team.

Orlando would close out Toronto in Game 5 at the old Amway Arena to claim the Magic’s first postseason series victory since defeating the Hawks in ’96. Long time coming.




May 31, 1995 – Indiana Pacers @ Orlando Magic

Game 5 Result: Magic Win 108-106

Series: Magic Lead Eastern Conference Finals 3-2


Give a young Magic squad credit for pulling out this one following Rik Smits drilling his game-winner in Game 4. Despite the Pacers winning the fourth period 34-25 in front of nervous Magic fans, Orlando survived to once again claim the series lead on the flight back to Indiana. Shaq was impeccable with his 35 points and 13 rebounds.

The first five games of this series were very tight. Then the Pacers get the Game 6 blowout in Indianapolis only to have Orlando annihilate Larry Brown‘s squad by 24 in the series deciding Game 7 as the O-Rena got to celebrate its first NBA Finals trip.



May 14, 2009 – Boston Celtics @ Orlando Magic

Game 6 Result: Magic Win 83-75

Series: Eastern Conference Semifinals Tied 3-3


The lowest scoring affair of this crazy series. Win or your season is over for Orlando. SVG’s men weren’t ready to fall on their sword at home. Orlando trailed by one entering the final quarter of regulation. Even without Kevin Garnett, Boston it appeared was going to take the series with Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce leading the way. The Magic took the 4th period 22-13 to extend the series to a Game 7 in Boston. Dwight had a very dominant  23 points, 22 rebounds, and 3 blocks. ‘Shard added twenty points. Hedo, Rafer Alston, and Courtney Lee came up with timely buckets when it mattered. Orlando wins the game despite managing 36.6 FG%. Thank you, Dick, for helping with the free throw gap. Boston shot 8-for-13 from the charity stripe while Orlando was 17-for-31 at the free throw line.




April 26, 2009 – Orlando Magic @ Philadelphia 76ers

Game 4 Result: Magic Win 84-81

Series: Eastern Conference 1st Round Tied 2-2


I don’t know of any Magic fan that doesn’t love this game-winner from Hedo Turkoglu. Onions. Before the Boston series, the Magic were in quite a battle with Philadelphia after the Sixers stole home court in Game 1 in the first round. It looked like a fun season would come to an abrupt end. The Magic were led in Game 4 by Dwight’s 18 points, 18 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Hedo and Rashard each tallied 17 points. Courtney Lee added 15 points while Rafter notched thirteen. Orlando held Philly to 38.8 FG%, but the Sixers were 8-of-19 from 3-point range and somehow won the rebounding battle. Philly put together quite a comeback to set up the dramatic finish.

If Hedo doesn’t drain that triple, and Orlando loses in overtime, the Sixers take a 3-1 series lead. Instead, the Magic head back to Orlando at 2-2 where they would cruise to a win in Game 5. Even with Dwight getting suspended, Orlando strolled to a Game 6 series victory in Philly with Marcin Gortat at center. That Game 4 was a growing up moment for the team, a moment that helped fuel SVG’s group to eventually reaching the NBA Finals.



Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

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