Welcome to our first ever NBA Playoff Blogger Faceoff, where we pit our favorite team-related writers 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: 2. Boston vs. 3. Orlando
WHY ORLANDO WILL NEED MAGIC TO BEAT THE C’S
Written by Chuck McKenney of Red’s Army
How can a team with the most impressive physical specimen in the NBA be soft? Make no mistake the Magic are soft and will stay that way no matter how many flagrant elbows Dwight Howard throws around.
The Magic are a perimeter team. They feed off double-teams of Howard. They swing the ball until one of their 3-point shooters has an open shot. But the Celtics do not need to double team Howard…as long as Kendrick Perkins is in the game. He’s good enough to check Howard (and by check I mean holding him to 25 pts, 15 rebs) so the rest of the Celtics can stay relatively close to their guys. Needless to say, if Perk gets two quick fouls in any game, the Celtics will struggle due to their lack of frontcourt depth.
Offensively, Rajon Rondo is playing better now than at any point in the season. With the monsterous Howard looking to block every shot, Rondo needs to be thinking pass rather than shot when he drives to the lane (something he will do at will against Rafer Alston).
I expect the Celtics bench to emerge in this series. Eddie House and Co. struggled mightily against the Bulls and that was the main reason why that series went 7. If House, Marbury, Brian Scalabrine and Mikki Moore can contribute even a collective 20 pts per game, the Celtics will win.
Which team has the better crunch time players? I’ll take the Celtics Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. Dwight Howard has yet to prove himself in the final minutes of a playoff game.
Celtics in 6.
WHY ORLANDO WILL WIN
Written by Ben Q. Rock of Third Quarter Collapse
Any way you look at the Orlando Magic’s series with the Boston Celtics, the two teams are evenly matched. The Celtics, without Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe, are essentially even with Orlando in terms of talent. Momentum isn’t really an issue, as neither team impressed much in its first-round series. The Magic needed six games to dispatch a markedly less talented Philadelphia team. Meanwhile, the Celtics needed seven games to knock off Chicago, which has one of the league’s most inept coaches. In other words, there’s a lot of room for improvement on both sides.
So, which team will emerge victorious? It’s a tough call, and there’s a great chance the series will go the distance. One factor may prove to decide the series, and that’s depth, a facet of the game which clearly favors Orlando. The Celtics are woefully thin up front, which is–unfortunately for them–where Orlando is deepest. Boston will have to count on a three-man rotation of Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis, and Brian Scalabrine to neutralize Orlando’s four-man rotation of Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, Marcin Gortat, and Tony Battie. That’s not a recipe for success. Sure, Perkins defends Howard better than just about anyone in the league. But when he’s in foul trouble or needs a breather, Boston is going to be in a tight spot.
And although the Celtics have a tremendous advantage at shooting guard–J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus will split Ray Allen duty–they’ll have to rely on Stephon Marbury and Eddie House to keep the team afloat when Allen’s out of the game. I’m not convinced that the Celtics have the depth, positions one through five, to defeat the Magic in a seven-game series. That’s the biggest reason why I’m picking the Magic to defeat the Celtics in six games.