Welcome to our first ever NBA Playoff Blogger Faceoff, where we pit our favorite team-related bloggers against each other to let them tell why the teams they represent will win their first round matchups. We gave them no set format, no style guide – we just told them to do their thing. Check it out and join in the debate in the comments section.
Next up: 3.Orlando vs. 6.Philadelphia
WHY THE MAGIC WILL WIN
Written by Evan “Ben Q. Rock” Dunlap of ThirdQuarterCollapse
Of all the Eastern Conference playoff teams, the Orlando Magic appear to be the one most likely to be upset in the first round. They’ve played poorly to close out the season, and some key contributors–Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu, to be precise–have nagging injuries. Sizing up their opponent, the Philadelphia 76ers team that took the Detroit Pistons to 6 games last season, and one can understand why some people think the Magic are headed home early.
But it’s simply not true.
No, the Magic haven’t played their best ball lately. It won’t matter, though, because their defense will be there to shut-down Philly’s offense. The Sixers sure as heck aren’t getting many looks at the rim with Dwight Howard manning the paint, and they’ve proven to be a poor three-point shooting team. If they’re going to beat the Magic, it’ll have to be their defense that does it.
And that won’t happen. Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, and Rafer Alston are simply too good for Philly to contain four times in seven games. Theo Ratliff has had success covering Howard in the past, and one thinks Andre Iguodala can force Turk into committing some turnovers. That’s about it.
Philly’s a good team, yes. Not good enough to give the Magic much of a scare, though. Orlando wins this series in 5 games.
WHY THE SIXERS WILL WIN
Written by Patrick Cassidy, Dime Magazine
As the playoff picture started to become clear and the seedings were starting to shake out, I wanted the Sixers to draw Orlando in the first round. No doubt about it, this Magic squad is primed to be upset.
On paper, it really shouldn’t be much of a series. The Magic are bigger, stronger, and are a much, much better shooting team than Philly. Plus they have Dwight. We don’t have anyone who can consistently knock down jumpers (I’m not counting The Corpse of Donyell Marshall) and we certainly don’t have anything resembling Dwight Howard.
What we do have though is confidence, athleticism and an opponent that is hobbled, not playing well and has a sneaking suspicion that they could be sent home early because they haven’t played good basketball in almost a month.
It’s bizarre to me that the Sixers have this rep for being a super dangerous playoff draw because they almost won a series over the Pistons last season, but whatever, we’ll take it. A few of the Sixers were quoted as saying that they were happy we drew Orlando, because they’re “easier” to deal with than the Celtics. You can’t blame Philly for speaking of the truth. They see a slumping Orlando squad whose two best perimeter players are injured and a superstar center who may or may not have the resolve or personality to lead his team to postseason glory.
The Sixers’ game plan will have two basic objectives. First, they will look to run, early and often. What they lack in shooters, they make up in athletes unafraid to slash to the rim looking to draw fouls. Guys like Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams will look to push the ball and they’ll look to try and get Dwight in early foul trouble.
Second – and this is vital – they MUST defend the perimeter. They have been atrocious defending the three-point line this season and they know that if they don’t close out on Orlando’s snipers, they will get blasted.
If they do these two things effectively, the rest will fall in place. The Sixers can win this series.