Cleveland Versus Orlando PreviewEastern Conference Finals
#1 Cleveland (66-16) vs. #3 Orlando (59-23)
Season series: Orlando, 2-1
Orlando can win if…the Magic shoot a high percentage from three point range while also establishing Dwight Howard as an offensive threat and if they keep LeBron James out of the paint without letting his supporting cast feast on open shots.
Cleveland will win because…the Cavs are too big, too strong, too deep and too good defensively. A depleted Boston team forced the Magic to go the distance, so a fully rested Cleveland team featuring James plus All-Star Mo Williams and a host of productive, playoff-tested veterans will be too much for the Magic to handle.
Other things to consider: Although the Magic won the season series, that does not really tell us much; the teams only played three times and in the first meeting, a 99-88 Magic victory, the Magic still had All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson--who later suffered a season-ending injury--while the Cavs were without the services of starting center Zydrunas Ilgauskas and starting shooting guard Delonte West; also, Joe Smith, who is sixth on the Cavs in playoff minutes played, had not yet been reacquired by the Cavs. In the second meeting, a 97-93 Cleveland home win, the Cavs were at full strength and the Magic had their current roster. The third and final meeting was the second game of a road back to back and third game in four nights for Cleveland, while Orlando had enjoyed a day off after playing a home game. Not surprisingly, the Magic ran the Cavs out of the gym, 116-87. The most important thing now is how the teams match up, because there are no more back to back or three games in four night scenarios.
You can find a more in depth take on this series in my newest article for CavsNews.com:
Playoff Tested Cavs Well Equipped to Deal With Magic
posted by David Friedman @ 4:20 PM