Magic-Celtics playoff preview

Howard needs to stay on the floor against the Celtics.

Howard needs to stay on the floor against the Celtics.

After knocking off the Sixers in the First Round, it doesn’t seem like the Magic are getting much love.  A series win against the Celtics would certainly change that.

Key Matchups

After playing a small Chicago team in the First Round, the Celtics face one of the biggest frontline’s in the NBA.  Kendrick Perkins draws the defensive assignment against Dwight Howard.  Perkins tends to get in foul trouble and rarely gets any calls, mainly because he whines after he is whistled for fouls.  If Perkins isn’t on the court, Boston has no one to guard Howard.

Kevin Garnett’s absence will really be felt against Orlando.

Paul Pierce faces Hedo Turkgolu is a battle of big, slow-footed small forwards.  It’ll be interesting to see how much Pierce has left in the tank against Orlando, and if he will pass the ball.

Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo have huge advantages in the series.  Allen will thrive against J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus, who will see action until Courtney Lee returns from his broken sinus.  Lee could play tonight in Game 1, but that doesn’t seem likely.

Rondo should be able to dominate Rafer Alston.  Skip to my Lou isn’t a terrible defender, but isn’t quick enough to hang with Rondo.

Aside from a surprising performance in Game 7, Boston’s bench was awful against Chicago.  But the Celtics have an edge against Orlando’s bench, which features Pietrus, Tony Battie, and Anthony Johnson – not good.

Stories to watch

There isn’t much bad blood here, so don’t expect any brawls.  But the series will certainly be interesting.

I’m anxious to watch Dwight Howard on the offensive end.  Stan Van Gundy relies on Howard a little too much in my opinion, and Howard can struggle when double-teamed.  Doc Rivers doesn’t like to double, and will hesitate to do so with Rashard Lewis and Turkgolu.

The Celtics didn’t look tired in Game 7 against the Bulls, but another grueling series doesn’t bode well for the C’s.

Prediction

If the Magic don’t play scared, it shouldn’t have any problem scoring against Boston’s defense.  Turkgolu and Lewis needs to play well, and Howard needs to keep his composure.  Winning on the road without Howard was a huge boost to Orlando’s confidence, and the Magic are a veteran team that won’t be intimidated.

I expect this series to go the distance – with the Magic winning in Game 7.

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