That was never his goal.
"It's like low-hanging fruit,'' he said.
Smith built this Magic team intending to win an NBA title, a goal that may have seemed well out of reach when this season began but a very attainable goal today. After their rocky trip to reach the Finals, the Magic don't feel like underdogs anymore. They are going into Game 1 Thursday confident they can win.
Here is why they will win the NBA title:
1. Dwight Howard is growing in confidence.
Although he was the best center in the league throughout the season, he has picked up momentum through the first three rounds, gaining some much needed playoff experience to go with his vast talents.
Howard became a much better passer, getting almost twice as many assists as turnovers in the conference final, and that was a huge accomplishment for him considering it reversed a trend from the regular season. He was virtually unstoppable in the close-out game, putting an exclamation point on his performance.
2. The Magic were one of only two teams to sweep the Lakers during the regular season.
Yes, the post-season is a different animal, but it sure has raised their confidence level going into the Finals.
Kobe Bryant had 41 points in the Magic's first victory, so they already know that if the Lakers star goes into his scoring mode, they can withstand it. Bryant also had a triple-double in the second Magic victory.
After withstanding an MVP performance from LeBron James in the conference final, they aren't in any awe of Bryant. The trick will be containing his supporting cast.
3. The Lakers have been vulnerable to the 3-point shot all season.
When the Lakers commit to slowing Dwight Howard inside, they are going to be giving up open shots to someone on the Magic roster. And the Magic have enough good shooters.
The Magic were second in the league only to New York in 3-pointers taken and attempted. But unlike the Knicks, they shot a good percentage (.381) and utilized it to a huge advantage. They broke with conventional wisdom and used that 3- point shot extensively in the playoffs and had success with it.
The Magic have moved the ball well offensively. Good chemistry has helped with the trust factor, assuring that the extra pass is being made to get the best possible shot.
4. Mickael Pietrus gives them a huge boast in a reserve role.
When the playoffs started, the Magic were a little nervous about their depth, worried if they had anyone who could be effective in reserve.
Pietrus, who struggled with injuries in the regular season, has been big in the playoffs, especially in the last series against Cleveland. He can be used to slow down Kobe Bryant with his size and athleticism, or he can hit the 3-point shot at the other end.
Pietrus came to Orlando as a free agent to be a starter, but after being replaced by rookie Courtney Lee, has flourished in this new role. When he played at Golden State, he was big in the Warriors playoff push two seasons ago. He seems to thrive in the playoff atmosphere.
5. Rafer Alston should have a surprisingly good series.
Alston knows this is his big chance to show everyone he can be a starting point guard on a championship team. It might be his only chance, too.
Jameer Nelson will return next season to be the starter. Nelson is even thinking seriously about returning for this series after missing the second half of the season with that shoulder injury.
Alston's time is running out, but the Magic have thrived with him at the point. He also thinks he can outplay Lakers point guard Derek Fisher, who is slowing down defensively.
Everyone is expected good play from Howard, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu, but Alston will be the wild card. If he is steady or better, the Magic win this series.