He's gone -- as is coach Stan Van Gundy -- but the Magic, under rookie coach Jacque Vaughn, are off to a 2-0 start heading into their game against the Chicago Bulls (2-1) on Tuesday night at the United Center.
"They've always had a very strong organization," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said after a shootaround Tuesday morning. "The strengths of the team have changed. It's no longer Dwight and everything feeding off of that, but they still have very talented players."
Thibodeau singled out guard J.J. Redick as one of those players. Redick leads a Magic team shooting an NBA-best 53.8 percent from 3-point range. The Bulls are shooting just 25 percent from long range, ranking near the bottom of the league through three games. Magic forward Glen Davis is fourth in the NBA at 25.5 points a game.
"They're very skilled offensively," Thibodeau said. "They've scored the ball very easily throughout the preseason and then into regular season."
Thibodeau indicated that he likes the Bulls' perimeter defense in the half court but not as much in transition. With Redick (6-for-8 on 3-pointers) and E'Twaun Moore (4-for-6) firing from long range off either situation, the Bulls will have to be ready.
"They're still a very talented group, and they're playing confident basketball right now," center Joakim Noah said. "We're going to have to play our best to get a win tonight."
The Bulls played anything but their best in their first loss of the season Saturday, when they fell to the New Orleans Hornets 89-82. The Bulls didn't hit shots, and their team game deteriorated from there. It was a reminder that playing without Derrick Rose will take a consummate team effort.
On Friday, the Bulls dominated in the team game, demolishing the Cleveland Cavaliers 115-86.
"We're not going to beat people individually," Thibodeau said. "We have to run a five-man offense and five-man defense."
You can bet the coach has reminded his team of that notion several times since Saturday.
"We have to stay on edge, stay focused," Noah said. "The way [the Magic] play is very different without Dwight. Guys are playing hungry. You have to be ready."
Thibodeau said his roster is healthy entering Tuesday night's contest.
The single-minded Thibodeau was asked if he is following the presidential election on voting day.
"When is it?" Thibodeau said, laughing.