May 22, 2010
The Boston Celtics may have taken the first 2 games on the road in the Eastern Conference Championship, but they are not taking the Orlando Magic lightly. Orlando has been here before, and despite the youth of this team they will be ready to play Saturday night.
Early season NBA predictions had the Orlando Magic as the second favorite (behind Cleveland) to win the East. This is not by accident as they return almost all of their players from last years squad that went to the NBA Finals. Dwight Howard, like everyone else in the starting rotation, will need to step up his game if the Magic are to keep their hopes of defeating the Celts in this best of 7 match-up alive. He may have had a big game offensively in game 2, but his rebounds will need to increase in order to not give the scrappy Celtics second chance opportunities. Howard averaged over 13 rebounds per game in the regular season. The playoffs are when stars are supposed to take their games to a higher level, and he hasn’t done that against Boston.
Rashard Lewis has been missing in action thus far. He and fellow starting forward Matt Barnes will need to be more aggressive offensively if Orlando is to match the Celts point for point. Vince Carter is the wildcard in this series. His game 1 performance was good, but he tends to get trigger happy when he’s going good. It is important that he stays within his role, and passes the ball when the shots aren’t there.
Boston looks like they are on a mission this season after suffering a setback last season when Kevin Garnett was injured during their playoff run. This is roughly the same squad that won the NBA Championship just 2 years ago against the Los Angeles Lakers. However, their aging superstars are all 2 years older now, and a step or two slower. The reason for Boston’s success to this point has been the emergence of Rajon Rondo and center Kendrick Perkins. They have both taken their games to a new level over the past 2 seasons and are plenty experienced for types of situations.
Like the Lakers in their series against Phoenix, the Celtics have a distinct size advantage over the Magic as they can rotate Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis into the line-up when Garnett and Perkins rest. That being said, Orlando will have to work that much harder on the glass to create second shot opportunities and to prevent Boston from getting their own.
Many basketball experts have the Lakers and Celtics penciled into the NBA Finals already, but I wouldn’t be too quick to jump onto that bandwagon. If the Magic can show that they are capable of winning in Boston in game 3, that may give them the confidence they need to take this series the distance,
Tune in Saturday at 8:30 EST to see if the Magic can turn this series around with a big win in Boston.