Orlando Magic Blog

Group Blog talking about the NBA 2009 Eastern Conference Champions. Due to the amazing success of the 2009 playoff run comments are now frequently deleted to kill offensive comments, incoherence, or asininity. Comments can no longer be anonymous and require either a Blogger or OpenID account.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Magic Must Now Deal With the Future

Here is an excerpt from an article from Wil Bradley of the Bleacher Report, which details what he thinks the Magic must do in the off-season:

The Orlando Magic's Game 3 nose-dive pushed the countdown button on looking forward to the upcoming summer.

In the recesses of general manager Otis Smith's mind, games four through six became an on-the-job tryout.

The tryouts ended Friday night, and now the off-season officially launches.

Smith made drastic roster changes last off-season. Six new names joined the Magic roster at the beginning of 2009.

The make-up of the franchise had shifted to emphasize the inside aspect, of the team's inside-out offensive approach.

The Magic worked through some early season growing pains, to find their stride the last third of the season. The Magic continued to dominate in the post-season, sweeping the Charlotte Bobcats and the Atlanta Hawks in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Then the Magic faced the test of defeating a championship team. Literally the same starting five that won the 2008 NBA Championship.

Orlando failed the test.

Here is the complete article from the Bleacher Report.

Here are the final playoff statistics for key Magic players:

Jameer Nelson: 19.0 ppg... 47.9% FG... 39.3% 3 PT FG... 4.8 asts... 1.0 stls... 2.5 tos
Dwight Howard: 18.1 ppg... 61.4% FG... 11.1 rebs... 3.5 blks... 3.6 to
Vince Carter: 15.5 ppg... 40.2% FG... 23.5% 3 PT FG... 4.2 rebs... 2.3 asts
Rashard Lewis: 12.9 ppg... 46.2% FG... 37.3% 3 PT FG... 5.6 rebs... 1.1 stls
Mickael Pietrus: 8.4 ppg... 43.8% FG... 45.9% 3 PT FG
J.J. Redick: 7.5 ppg... 42.3% FG... 42.9% 3 PT FG
Matt Barnes: 6.4 ppg... 40.0 FG... 37.5% 3 PT FG... 4.7 rebs
Marcin Gortat: 3.0 ppg... 65.4% FG... 4.4 rebs
Brandon Bass... 2.7 ppg... 53.8% FG... 1.1 rebs
Ryan Anderson: 2.6 ppg... 31.0% FG... 28.6% 3 PT FG... 3.4 rebs
Jason Williams: 2.6 ppg... 34.2% FG... 25.0% 3 PT FG... 1.6 asts

Saturday, May 29, 2010

ECF Game 6: Celtics 96, Magic 84... Celtics win series 4 -2

The pressure was squarely on Boston in Game 6, and they responded in resounding fashion, as the Magic had the lead for only 11 seconds in the game, 12-11 in the first. The game was not as close as the final score might indicate, as the Celtics jumped out to a 21 point second quarter lead, thanks to backup PG Nate Robinson's 13 second quarter points. The Magic managed to cut their deficit to 13 points at halftime, 55-42, but the Celtics extended their lead to as much as 80-56 late in the third and led by a commanding 82-61 margin heading into the fourth. The Celtics went back up by 24 points early in the fourth 85-61, but the Magic went on a 13-3 run over the next 7:01 to cut their deficit to 88-74 with 4:40 remaining. The Celtics then scored the 8 of the next 12 points to put the game away, as the Magic scored the last 6 points in garbage time.

Congratulations to the Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics. They truly earned it, as they beat the top two teams (in terms of record) in the NBA, Cleveland and Orlando, 4 games to 2 in each series. The Magic made the series very interesting after falling behind 3 games to none, but their season ends in disappointment. They will have to watch the NBA Finals this year instead of participating like last year.

Magic leading scorers

Dwight Howard: 28 points (11 of 17 FGs, 6 of 12 FTs), 12 rebounds, 2 steals
Vince Carter: 17 points (6 of 15 FGs, 1 of 4 3 PT FGs), 7 rebounds
Jameer Nelson: 11 points (5 of 14 FGs, 1 of 5 3 PT FGs), 4 assists, 5 turnovers

Overall Game Statistics

FG%: ORL 43.1% (31 of 72) BOS 42.7% (32 of 75)
3 PT FG%: BOS 45.5% (10 of 22) ORL 27.3% (6 of 22)
FT%: BOS 81.5% (22 of 27) ORL 59.3% (16 of 27)
REB: BOS 45 (11 offensive) ORL 35 (9 offensive)
AST/TO: BOS 19/17 ORL 14/12

Other game notes and stats:

-In addition to Nate Robinson, four other Celtics scored in double figures, led by Paul Pierce with 31 points (9 of 15 FGs, 4 of 5 3 PT FGs, 9 of 10 FTs), 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals; Ray Allen added 20 points; Rajon Rondo 14 points, 6 assists, and Kevin Garnett 10 points
-Rashard Lewis (7 points) and Matt Barnes (1 point) combined for just 8 points on 3 of 11 FGs as Barnes did not attempt a FG
-J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus each scored 7 points to lead the Magic reserves
-Glen Davis, coming off a concussion in Game 5, scored 6 points with 7 rebounds off the Celtics' bench
-After leading Boston in scoring in Game 5, Rasheed Wallace went scoreless on 0 for 5 FGs off the Celtics' bench in Game 6
-The Celtics missed 12 of 13 FGs with 2 turnovers in the 7:01 span of the fourth quarter when the Magic outscored the Celtics 13-3, but the Magic shot just 4 of 9 from the field and 4 of 8 from the free throw line with 2 turnovers during that same span

Here is the complete recap and box score from nba.com.

Friday, May 28, 2010

ECF Game 6 Preview

8:30 PM ESPN

Boston center Glen Davis will be a game-time decision for Friday's Game 6 against the Orlando Magic, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers was encouraged by what he saw of his valuable sub Thursday.

"Baby looked fine, but he still has to go through a couple of tests this evening," Rivers said of Davis.

Here is the rest of the article from espn.com

Here is the complete preview of Game 6 from Yahoo! Sports.

The Celtics are 3 1/2 point favorites at -160 odds to win Game 6.

For the series, the Celtics are a -300 favorite to win, while the Magic are a +220 underdog.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Boston's Perkins to play in Game 6

The NBA on Thursday rescinded one of the two technical fouls assessed to Celtics center Kendrick Perkins in Boston's loss to Orlando in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night, meaning Perkins will be available to play in Friday's Game 6.

Here is the rest of the article from espn.com.

Game 5 ECF: Magic 113, Celtics 92... Celtics lead the series 3-2

The Orlando Magic are now halfway to making NBA history, thanks to a dominating effort that saw them break the game open in the fourth quarter. Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson led the way again for the Magic, with Howard scoring 21 points along with 10 rebounds and 5 blocks; Nelson led all scorers with 24 points along with 5 assists and 5 rebounds.

Gregg Doyel of cbssports.com writes how the physical play of Dwight Howard changed the game drastically in the Magic's favor.

Chris Sheridan of espn.com writes that it's a whole new series now.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes that the tone of the series has changed dramatically because Boston is battered, beleaguered, and no longer playing peerless ball.

Boston's Kendrick Perkins was hit with two technical fouls in the first half, and will be suspended for Game 6 unless one of the technicals is rescinded.

Boston's Glen "Big Baby" Davis suffered a concussion when hit with an accidental elbow from Howard late in the third quarter.

Here is the complete recap and box score from nba.com.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Viral infection hampering Lewis

"Overall it effects you," Lewis said after Orlando's shootaround Wednesday. "I've been throwing up. I haven't been at full strength. I've been feeling weak, my legs been feeling weak. I find myself getting tired very fast in the first quarter. You know, when you can't hold food down you have no energy in your body to go out there and perform."

Here is the complete article from espn.com.

Game 4 ECF Preview

8:30 PM ESPN

Columnist Ian Thomsen of SI.com details how Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson stepped up for the Magic in Game 4.

Adrian Wojnarowski believes the Magic still have no chance of winning this series.

Here is the complete preview from Yahoo! Sports.

The Magic are 4 point favorites at -175 odds.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

ECF Game 4: Magic 96, Celtics 92 OT... Celtics lead series 3-1

The Orlando Magic stave off elimination in a tense, exciting game, thanks to terrific efforts from Dwight Howard (32 points, 16 rebounds, 4 blocks) and Jameer Nelson (23 points, 9 assists, including two clutch threes in OT). The Magic were able to overcome 13 missed free throws and 19 turnovers, along with a 31 point effort from Boston's Paul Pierce.

The Magic finally got off to a good start, as the Celtics' had a brief lead of 5-4 before the Magic turned it on, leading by as much as 23-15 in the opening quarter. The Celtics went on a 7-1 run to cut the Magic lead to 24-22, but the Magic went into the second quarter with a 31-26 lead. The Magic maintained their lead in the second quarter, leading by as much as 42-32, but the Celtics made the game close at the half, trailing just 51-47.

The Magic led by as many as 8 points early in the third, but Boston cut the Magic lead to 56-55 with 8:06 remaining. The Magic were able to maintain their slim lead the rest of the quarter, until Ray Allen's 2 free throws in the final minute made the score 68-67 Boston going into the fourth. The Magic took the lead back right away to open the fourth, going ahead 74-70. The Celtics countered with a 6-0 run to lead 76-74 with 5:33 remaining. The Magic then went on a 11-2 run over the next 3:09 to seemingly take control of the game 85-78 with 2:24 remaining. A Ray Allen three and two Paul Pierce buckets along with a free throw tied the game at 86 with 1:16 remaining. There would be no more scoring the final 1:16, as Nelson missed a shot with 17.8 seconds remaining, and Boston could not even get a shot off in their final possession.

Both teams started slow in the OT, as the Magic missed a field goal attempt, two free throws, and committed two turnovers in the first two minutes of the OT, while the Celtics missed all four shots during that span. Nelson then made two clutch three pointers in 43 seconds, with the first three pointer banking in. Two Allen three pointers got the Celtics to within 94-92 with 1:13 remaining, but the Celtics missed their final three shots and committed a turnover while Howard's layup for the Magic with 52.7 seconds remaining provided the final margin of victory.

Magic leading scorers

Dwight Howard: 32 points (13 of 19 FGs, 6 of 14 FTs), 16 rebounds, 4 blocks, 4 turnovers
Jameer Nelson: 23 points (7 of 14 FGs, 3 of 6 3 PT FGs), 9 assists, 5 rebounds, 6 turnovers
Rashard Lewis: 13 points (4 of 10 FGs, 2 of 3 3 PT FGs), 5 rebounds, 2 steals
J.J. Redick: 12 points (3 of 5 3 PT FGs), 4 turnovers
Matt Barnes: 10 points (4 of 8 FGs, 2 of 6 3 PT FGs), 7 rebounds

Overall Game Statistics

FG%: ORL 44.6% (33 of 74) BOS 42.1% (32 of 76)
3 PT FG%: ORL 35.7% (10 of 28) BOS 27.8% (5 of 18)
FT%: BOS 76.7% (23 of 30) ORL 60.6% (20 of 33)
REB: BOS 47 (10 offensive) ORL 43 (11 offensive)
AST/TO: BOS 19/16 ORL 19/19

Other game notes and stats:

-Three Celtics scored in double figures, led by Pierce's 32 points, but shot just 11 of 25 FGs, including 0 for 6 on threes; Ray Allen scored 22 points and shot 5 of 7 from long range, and Kevin Garnett added 14 points and 12 rebounds, but shot just 5 of 12
-Rajon Rondo of the Celtics was held to 9 points on 3 of 10 shooting and 8 assists; Glen Davis added 6 points and 7 rebounds off the bench, while Rasheed Wallace was held to 4 points on 2 of 7 shooting
-The Magic's Vince Carter scored just 3 points on 1 of 9 FGs, including 0 for 3 on threes
-Carter and Mickael Pietrus combined to shoot 1 of 13, including 0 for 6 on threes
-The "Big Three" of the Celtics (Pierce, Allen, and Garnett) scored 68 of the Celtics' 93 points
-The Celtics shot just 2 of 10 in the OT with 1 turnover, while the Magic shot 4 of 7 despite 4 OT turnovers and 3 missed free throws
-Brandon Bass finally saw action as the primary PF backup for the Magic, playing 11 minutes with 3 points and 2 rebounds, and also altered a Celtics' shot

Here is the complete recap and box score from nba.com.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Game 4 ECF Preview

8:30 PM ESPN

The Magic have been getting roasted in the national media for their Game 3 performance, this column by Mike Freeman of cbssports.com being an example.

John Hollinger of espn.com details how the Celtics have been able to frustrate the Magic, and the outstanding play of Boston's Rajon Rondo.

Here is the complete Game 4 preview from Yahoo! Sports.

The Celtics are 7 point favorites at -350 odds to win Game 4.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

ECF Game 3: Celtics 94, Magic 71... Boston leads series 3-0

Boston dominated every facet of the game from start to finish as the Orlando Magic turned in an inexplicably abysmal performance in a game they had to win if they had any hopes of advancing to the NBA Finals; instead, the game was over after the third quarter as the Celtics had a staggering 28 point lead heading into the fourth. Six Celtics players scored between 10 and 17 points.

Boston jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, as the Magic did not score their first points until they were 3:43 into the game. The Magic then scored the next six points to make it 7-6, as it appeared they weathered the early Boston storm. The Celtics then surged ahead with a 14-0 run to go ahead 21-6, and had a solid 27-12 lead going into the second quarter, as the Magic shot a pitiful 4 of 17 in the first. The Celtics kept adding onto their lead in the second, with their largest lead of the half coming at 43-19 with 6:39 remaining. The Magic went on a brief 8-0 run to cut their deficit to 16 points and give their fans hope they had a big comeback left in them, but the Celtics quickly built their lead back up to 50-29. The Magic scored the last 5 points of the half, but still trailed big 51-34.

The closest the Magic came in the second half was when Rashard Lewis scored the first basket of the third quarter to make it 51-36. The Celtics then scored 5 points in a row to move their lead back up to 20 points, and led 62-43 halfway through the third. That was the last time the Magic were within 20 points as the Celtics outscored the Magic 13-4 the final six minutes of the third quarter and led by a stunning 75-47 going into the fourth. The Celtic's largest lead of the game was 85-53 with 8:13 remaining. Needless to say, the rest of the fourth quarter was garbage time for both teams, as the Magic wrapped up their worst offensive performance of the season on J.J. Redick's three pointer on their final possession.

Magic leading scorers

Jameer Nelson: 15 points (5 of 14 FGs, 3 of 9 3 PT FGs), 4 rebounds, 4 turnovers
Vince Carter: 15 points (5 of 12 FGs, 1 of 5 3 PT FGs), 5 rebounds, 2 steals
Mickael Pietrus (bench): 12 points (3 of 6 FGs, 2 of 5 3 PT FGs)

Overall Game Statistics

FG%: BOS 46.6% (34 of 73) ORL 36.9% (24 of 65)
3 PT FG%: BOS 54.5% (6 of 11) ORL 26.7% (8 of 30)
FT%: ORL 83.3% (15 of 18) BOS 71.4% (20 of 28)
REB: BOS 43 (7 offensive) ORL 36 (3 offensive)
AST/TO: BOS 23/9 ORL 10/17

Other game notes and stats:

-Reserve Glen Davis led Boston with 17 points and 6 rebounds; Paul Pierce added 15 points; 9 rebounds, Ray Allen 14 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists; Rajon Rondo 11 points, 12 assists, 4 steals; Kevin Garnett 10 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals; and reserve Rasheed Wallace 10 points, 4 rebounds
-The Magic starting frontline of Dwight Howard (7 points on 3 of 10 FGs), Rashard Lewis (4 points on 2 of 8 FGs), and Matt Barnes (2 points on 1 of 2 shooting) combined to score 13 points on 6 of 20 FGs with 13 rebounds
-The Celtics' starting frontline combined to score 31 points on 13 of 25 FGs with 21 rebounds and 5 steals
-Nelson and Carter combined to shoot 10 of 26 FGs
-Carter and Lewis combined to shoot 1 of 9 on three pointers
-Howard went to the free throw line just four times, making one
-Howard led the Magic with 7 rebounds and 3 blocks; reserve Marcin Gortat grabbed 6 boards
-Three different Magic players (Barnes, Carter, Redick) had 2 assists to lead the team

Game 4 will be Monday night in Boston, as the Magic try and avoid the sweep and will attempt to become the first NBA team to overcome a three games to none deficit in games in the playoffs.

Here is the complete recap and box score from nba.com.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Game 3 ECF Preview

8:30 ESPN

Here is an excerpt from the Yahoo! Sports preview:

“We’ve won there before, and there’s no reason we can’t do it again,” forward Rashard Lewis said Friday as the Magic prepared for Game 3. “Boston came to us and beat us twice on our home court, so it’s happened before. Why can’t we do it? Why can’t it happen again?”

Orlando was one of two teams—Atlanta was the other—to win twice in Boston this year. The Magic also remember coming to town in last year’s playoffs, when they beat Boston twice—including the Celtics’ first-ever loss at home in a seventh game—to advance to the conference finals.

“Last year, Boston never lost a Game 7 on their home floor. We went in and beat them,” Lewis said. “It can happen.”

Here is the complete preview from Yahoo! Sports.

The Celtics are 3 1/2 point favorites at -170 odds to win Game 3.

For the series, the Celtics are -500 odds to win, while the Magic are +375 underdogs.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Denton: Magic remain confident

John Denton writes about the Magic on the official team website.

Here is some of what he had to write after the Magic's Game 2 loss:

The second-seeded Magic, winners of 59 regular-season games and victors in the first eight games of the postseason, vowed that these Eastern Conference Finals are far from over. But before they can talk of getting back in the series they must first figure out how to win a game – and do so at Boston’s TD Garden on Saturday night.

(Dwight) Howard brazenly said the Magic are far from dead in this series. And he told his teammates as much in the locker room on Wednesday, stressing that total belief was needed in order for the Magic to pull off a stunning turnaround.

Here is the complete article from Denton.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Reactions on the Magic/Celtics series so far from the internet

Henry Abbott of espn.com writes that Dwight Howard won't be suspended for Game 3 for his flagrant foul on Paul Pierce.

John Hollinger of espn.con writes that the Celtics are proving you can turn it on and off.

On the same thread, Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago writes about the Magic's critical miscues in the final minute of Game 2.

CBSSports.com columnist Gregg Doyel, who was very critical of Dwight Howard in Game 1, praises Howard for his Game 2 performance, but criticizes the other Magic players.

David Whitley of fanhouse.com writes about how the Celtics are doing the little things that get you the win, while the Magic are not.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes that the Magic are in very deep trouble.

On the other hand, Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie from Yahoo! Sports writes how the Celtics have executed their game plan to perfection, but not to be surprised if the Magic win Games 3 and 4 in Boston.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Game 2 ECF: Celtics 95, Magic 92... Celtics lead series 2-0

Boston has taken control of the series thanks to 28 points from SF Paul Pierce and 25 points and 8 assists from PG Rajon Rondo. The Magic, led by Dwight Howard's 30 points, trailed most of the game as another frantic fourth quarter comeback attempt fell just short.

The Magic got out to their first lead of the series early in the first quarter, leading 5-4 and 10-9, before Boston went on a 14-2 run to take a 23-12 lead with 4:43 remaining. The Magic then went on a 16-2 surge, sparked by J.J. Redick scoring 9 of those points, to take a 28-25 lead before the Celtics cut the Magic lead to 28-27 after one. The second quarter was close throughout, as the Celtics' largest lead of the quarter coming at 41-36 and 53-48, but the Magic were able to close their deficit to 53-51 at the half. Dwight Howard was called for a Flagrant 1 foul after fouling Paul Pierce hard with 4:16 remaining in the half.

The Magic took the lead briefly in the third at 59-57, but then went 6:18 without a field goal and just one free throw as the Celtics went on a 13-1 run for their largest lead of the quarter at 70-60 with 4:49 left in the third. The Magic cut their deficit to single digits after three quarters 78-70. Rasheed Wallace's three pointer to open the fourth gave the Celtics their largest lead of the game at 81-70. The Magic went on a 13-4 run to cut their deficit to 85-83 with 6:57 remaining. The Magic took their last lead of the game 90-89 on a Vince Carter jumper with
3:36 remaining, before the Celtics took the lead back for good 91-90. Redick was then called for a questionable offensive foul on the ensuing possession, with the Celtics then going ahead 93-90. A Jameer Nelson driving layup with 55.8 seconds remaining cut the Boston lead to 93-92, then two Pierce free throws gave Boston a 95-92 lead with 34.7 seconds remaining. Carter was fouled with 31.4 seconds left, but missed both free throws. Garnett missed a jumper with 8.9 seconds left, with Redick getting the rebound but advancing the ball instead of calling timeout right away, meaning the Magic had to inbound the ball at halfcourt instead of closer to their basket. A 35 foot running three pointer by Nelson barely grazed the outside of the net as time ran out on what may have been the last game ever at Amway Arena.

Magic leading scorers

Dwight Howard: 30 points (9 of 13 FGs, 12 of 17 FTs), 8 rebounds
Vince Carter: 16 points (5 of 15 FGs, 5 of 7 FTs), 3 steals
J.J. Redick (bench): 16 points (3 of 9 FGs, 2 of 3 3 PGs, 8 of 8 FTs), 5 rebounds, 4 assists

Overall Game Stats

FG%: BOS 45.9% (34 of 74) ORL 39.4% (28 of 71)
3 PT FG%: ORL 38.9% (7 of 18) BOS 33.3% (5 of 15)
FT%: BOS 78.6% (22 of 28) ORL 76.3% (29 of 38)
REB: BOS 38 (9 offensive) ORL 36 (10 offensive)
AST/TO: BOS 20/15 ORL 18/14

Other game notes and stats:

-Four Celtics scored in double figures, led by Pierce's 28 points on 8 of 16 FGs and 9 of 11 FTs along with 5 rebounds and 5 assists before fouling out late; Rondo scored 25 points on 10 of 16 FGs, and 5 of 6 FTs along with 8 assists; Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins each added 10 points
-The Celtics' Ray Allen was held to 4 points on 1 of 6 shooting
-Glen Davis led the Celtics' bench with 8 points and 6 rebounds
-Nelson (9 points), Rashard Lewis (5 points) and Matt Barnes (6 points) combined to score 20 points on 8 of 27 FGs, including 2 of 8 on threes for the Magic
-Other than Howard and Marcin Gortat (1 of 1 FGs), the seven other Magic players combined to shoot 18 of 57 from the field and no one else shot 50% or better
-Lewis attempted just 6 FGs in 41 minutes
-Lewis, Nelson, and Redick each had 4 assists
-The Celtics were called for 29 team fouls, with Pierce and Perkins fouling out, while the Magic were called for 25 team fouls with Howard and Carter with 4 fouls apiece

Here is the complete recap and box score from nba.com.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Game 2 ECF Preview

8:30 PM ESPN

From the Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic will try to utilize their Game 1 defeat to the Boston Celtics as a wake-up call and a reason to exert even more effort at practice as they gear up for Game 2, which tips off on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Game 1 obviously didn’t go as planned for the Magic, but as this team has proven all season long, they are driven to bounce back from adversity.

Sunday’s loss was the first defeat for Orlando since April 2. It had won 14 consecutive games, including an 8-0 start to the postseason.

“Our team has responded to everything,” Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy said. “Our guys aren't going to fall apart.”

The best news from Game 1 was that the Magic battled back from a 20-point deficit, 17 in the fourth quarter, to close within two in the final 10 seconds. They showed tremendous determination and resilience, but Boston managed to hit its free throws to seal the victory.

“It's going to be a battle,” said Vince Carter, who led Orlando with 23 points. “It’s going to be a war.”

The outcome of this series may come down to how well Dwight Howard, the league’s best defensive player, performs. The four-time All-Star didn’t find his offensive rhythm in Game 1, finishing with 13 points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field.

“I just have to come back in Game 2 and not try to force anything,” Howard said. “But at the same time just still be aggressive.”

Many NBA critics and spectators are already blaming Orlando’s meager shooting performance (5-of-22 from 3-point range) on the extended layoff. While the Celtics just came off an exhilarating series triumph over the top-seeded Cavaliers on the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Magic earned rest for their dominant performance against the Hawks.

But, Orlando doesn’t think rust had anything to do with it.

“We were just anxious,” D12 said. “I think they did a lot of good things on defense.”

Game 2 now sets up to be the most important contest of the year for the Magic. It’s extremely rare for teams, especially when they started the series at home, to overcome a 2-0 deficit and advance.

There is no doubt that Van Gundy and the rest of the coaching staff will have the Magic prepared to even up the series before heading to Boston for Games 3 and 4.

Here is the complete preview from Yahoo! Sports.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports details in his column about how tough the Boston defense really was in Game 1.

Here is a column from cbssports.com columnist Gregg Doyel that is very harsh on the Magic's Dwight Howard.

Bleacher Report writer Adam Davis writes how the Magic showed their toughness in the Game 1 loss.

The Magic are 7 point favorites at -330 odds to win Game 2.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Game 1 ECF: Celtics 92, Magic 88... Celtics lead series 1-0

The Orlando Magic received a wakeup call Sunday afternoon as Boston led from start to finish and dominated the first three quarters, leading by as much as 20 points in the third quarter. The Celtics still led by 13 points with 5 1/2 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter before a frantic Magic rally pulled them as close as 2 points in the final seconds, but the Celtics were able to answer and hold off the Magic. Ray Allen led all scorers with 25 points while Vince Carter led the Magic with 23 points.

The Magic had quite possibly their worst quarter of the season in the first quarter, as they shot just 4 of 20, including 0 for 3 from long range, and committed 4 turnovers. The Celtics were held to under 40% shooting, though, in the first but led 22-14 going into the second thanks to the ineptness of the Magic. The Celtics extended their lead in the second to as much as 31-16 and were able to maintain a double digit lead for most of the quarter. The Magic were able to cut their deficit to single digits 41-32 at the half.

The Magic started quickly in the second half, cutting the Boston lead to 43-40 thanks to 8 points in two minutes by Jameer Nelson. It was 45-42 Boston when the Celtics went on a 20-3 tear in 5:24 to extend their lead to 65-45 with 3:49 remaining in the third quarter. The Celtics went into the fourth quarter with a seemingly comfortable 74-58 lead. The Celtics led by as much as 77-60 with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game, and 88-75 with 5:34 remaining. The Celtics then went 5:22 without scoring as the Magic scored 10 points in a row to cut their deficit to 88-85 before Paul Pierce's two free throws with 12.9 seconds remaining. The Magic, trailing 90-85, then got a three point play the hard way as Vince Carter was fouled with 9.4 seconds remaining, made the first free throw, purposely missed the second with Nelson sneaking in for the tip to cut the Celtics' lead to 90-88 with 8.4 seconds remaining. Two Ray Allen free throws with 6.1 seconds remaining made it a two-possession game and effectively ended the Magic comeback attempt.

Magic leading scorers

Vince Carter: 23 points (9 of 18 FGs, 5 of 6 FTs), 5 rebounds
Jameer Nelson: 20 points (8 of 18 FGs, 2 of 7 3 PT FGs), 9 rebounds
Dwight Howard: 13 points (3 of 10 FGs, 7 of 12 FTs), 12 rebounds, 5 blocks, 7 turnovers

Overall Game Statistics

FG%: BOS 44.6% (33 of 74) ORL 41.6% (32 of 77)
3 PT FG%: BOS 42.9% (6 of 14) ORL 22.7% (5 of 22)
FT%: BOS 76.9% (20 of 26) ORL 73.1% (19 of 26)
REB: ORL 45 (15 offensive) BOS 38 (7 offensive)
AST/TO: BOS 21/16 ORL 10/18

Other game notes and stats:

-The Celtics had three players in double figures, led by Ray Allen with 25 points on 8 of 16 shooting with 7 rebounds; Paul Pierce added 22 points on just 8 shots, shooting 6 for 8, including 2 of 3 on threes, and 8 of 10 from the free throw line with 9 rebounds; and Rasheed Wallace added 13 points off the bench
-The Celtics' Kevin Garnett added 8 points on just 4 of 14 shooting, but grabbed 11 rebounds, and PG Rajon Rondo scored 8 points with 8 assists
-J.J. Redick scored 9 points off the Magic bench to lead the reserves, while Marcin Gortat scored 6 points, all in the first half along with 5 rebounds
-The Magic starting frontcourt were held to a combined 6 of 24 shooting (Lewis and Barnes 3 of 14), including 0 for 7 on threes, for 21 points; The Celtics' starting frontcourt combined for 34 points
-Lewis (o for 6) and Magic reserve Mickael Pietrus (1 for 4) combined to shoot 1 for 10 on three pointers
-Matt Barnes, who had a sore back coming into the game, played just 15 1/2 minutes and scored just 2 points along with 3 rebounds
-During the Celtics' 20-3 run during the third quarter, the Magic were 1 of 7 on FGs, 1 of 4 on FTs with 4 turnovers during this span, while the Celtics shot 7 of 8 FGs and 4 of 4 on FTs
-When the Celtics went 5:22 without scoring late in the fourth quarter, they shot 0 for 5 FGs and 0 for 2 FTs with 3 turnovers, but the Magic shot just 4 of 10 during that span with 2 of 2 FTs

The Magic will try and pull even in the series Tuesday night.

Here is the complete recap and box score from nba.com.

Here is an article from cbssports.com detailing how rusty the Magic were for much of Game 1, and Magic coach Stan Van Gundy's take on the game.

Game 1 ECF preview

3:30 PM ABC

Magic SF Matt Barnes still plans to start Game 1 despite missing practice due to back spasms.

Here is the Game 1 preview from Yahoo! Sports.

The Magic are 6 1/2 point favorites at -300 odds to win Game 1.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Celtics/Magic matchups and preview

Here are the playoff statistics for each team at their respective positions, with the Celtics listed first. Of course, individual matchups will vary at different points in the games between the two teams.

PG... Rajon Rondo: 18.0 ppg, 11.1 asts, 6.3 rebs
Jameer Nelson: 20.5 ppg, 5.2 asts, 2.6 rebs

EDGE: Magic
A terrific matchup here, with a healthy Nelson one of the reasons why the Magic are better than last season's Eastern Conference champs, while Rondo starred against Cleveland. Nelson is the decidedly better outside shooter between the two, which could give the Magic a slight edge.

SG... Ray Allen: 17.4 ppg, 3.0 rebs, 2.8 asts
Vince Carter: 16.9 ppg, 4.5 rebs, 2.4 asts

EDGE: Even
Carter came alive and played well in the second round after a sluggish performance in the first round against Charlotte, while Allen has had a good playoffs.

SF... Paul Pierce: 16.3 ppg, 5.1 rebs, 3.5 asts
Matt Barnes: 7.4 ppg, 4.8 rebs, 1.6 asts

EDGE: Celtics
Barnes will not defend Pierce, as Carter will get the call while Barnes defends Ray Allen, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.

PF: Kevin Garnett: 17.6 ppg, 8.3 rebs, 2.3 asts
Rashard Lewis: 16.4 ppg, 5.5 rebs, 2.6 asts

EDGE: Celtics
Garnett is healthy and playing well, while Lewis has had a solid playoffs and is shooting well. Garnett is the better defensive player which gives the Celtics a slight edge.

C: Kendrick Perkins: 6.3 ppg, 7.3 rebs
Dwight Howard: 15.4 ppg, 11.2 rebs

EDGE: Magic
Perkins has given Howard problems in the past down low defensively, so it will be interesting to see how Howard does offensively and if Perkins can get him in foul trouble, but D12 played well in the Atlanta series after being frustrated by Charlotte.

RESERVES... Tony Allen (7.5 ppg, 2.4 rebs), Glen Davis (7.4 ppg, 3.7 rebs), Rasheed Wallace (5.1 ppg, 2.2 rebs), Nate Robinson (3.0 ppg), Michael Finley (1.4 ppg)
Mickael Pietrus (10.2 ppg), J.J. Redick (4.8 ppg), Marcin Gortat (3.9 ppg, 4.5 rebs), Ryan Anderson (2.9 ppg, 3.6 rebs), Jason Williams (1.8 ppg, 1.5 asts)

EDGE: Magic
Boston's reserves really stepped up against Cleveland, while Pietrus continues to play well in the playoffs for the Magic, just like last season. Other Magic reserves have not seen as much playing time in the playoffs as the regular season, so their averages are down somewhat. Still, the Magic reserves have the slight edge, with Gortat playing well on the occasions Howard has been in foul trouble.

According to sportsbook.com, the Magic are -260 favorites (wagering $260 to win $100 plus the original wager) to win the series, while the Celtics are +210 underdogs (wagering $100 to win $210 plus the original wager).

This article from Wil Bradley of Bleacher Report details six reasons why the Magic will remain Eastern Conference Champions.

Here is a preview of the Magic/Celtics series from Yahoo! Sports.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Celtics complete shocking series victory over Cavaliers

Five players scored in double figures for Boston, compared to just three players for Cleveland, and the Celtics' reserves outscored the Cavaliers' reserves 24-13 as Boston will now face the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Cavs' LeBron James had a triple/double with 27 points, 19 rebounds, and 10 assists, but had a disastrous 9 turnovers as the Cavs shot just 38% and turned the ball over 22 times.

Game 1 between the Celtics and Magic will be Sunday afternoon and Game 2 Tuesday evening as the Magic enjoy the homecourt advantage.

Here is the complete recap from Yahoo! Sports of the Celtics' win.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jameer Nelson's great leap forward

"Now, he's a tough guy. He's a little guy, but he's a tough guy. Plays with his heart," ESPN color commentator Hubie Brown said after Nelson toyed with Joe Johnson on his way to the tin for a layup in the third quarter of Game 2. "See, he's going to challenge you. Size? No problem here."
Read the rest of the article by Dan Devine from Yahoo! Sports Ball Don't Lie.

Can the Magic possibly go 16-0 in the playoffs?

From Magic SG Vince Carter:

"When you're playing this well, you don't want to lose at all," said Vince Carter. "You want teams to always have fear in their minds and think: We can't beat these guys. You never want to have a nick in your armour. When you're playing this well, why not stay flawless if you can? I'd like to go 16-0."

Read the rest of the article by Trey Kirby of Yahoo! Sports Ball Don't Lie.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Celtics demolish Cavaliers to take a 3-2 series lead

In stunning fashion, Boston handed Cleveland their worst home playoff loss in their history, as six Celtic players scored in double figures, led by Ray Allen with 25 points. The "Big Three" of Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce combined for 64 points. Meantime, the Cavaliers' LeBron James had one of the worst games of his playoff career, scoring 15 points on 3 of 14 shooting. Shaquille O'Neal led the Cavs with 21 points.

The Celtics can close out the Cavs in Game 6 Thursday in Boston.

Here is the complete recap and box score from Yahoo! Sports.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Game 4 ECSF: Magic 98, Hawks 84... Magic win series 4-0

The Orlando Magic completed a historic four game sweep against Atlanta, as their margin of victory in the four games was 101 points, which is the most in a 4 game sweep in NBA history. Five Magic players scored in double figures, led by Vince Carter's 22 points, as the Magic connected on 16 three pointers. The Magic led by 21 points late before the Hawks scored the game's final 7 points.

The Magic led from start to finish, as they jumped out quickly on the Hawks to lead by as many as 13 points in the first quarter and led 34-23 after one. The Hawks attempted to make a game of it in the second quarter after falling behind 44-30, coming as close as 46-40 as the Magic led 53-45 at the half. The Magic quickly went ahead 64-47 in the third quarter, but the Hawks gradually cut into the lead, cutting their deficit to 75-66 after three. The Magic scored the first 9 points of the fourth quarter to lead 84-66, and that was the game for all intents and purposes, as the Magic led by as much as 93-71 with 4:34 remaining as the Magic cruised to one of the most dominant series sweeps in NBA history.

Magic leading scorers

Vince Carter: 22 points (7 of 12 FGs, 4 of 7 3 PT FGs), 4 rebounds
Rashard Lewis: 17 points (6 of 10 FGs, 4 of 7 3 PT FGs), 6 rebounds, 5 assists
Jameer Nelson: 16 points (7 of 11 FGs), 9 assists, 2 steals
Dwight Howard: 13 points (5 of 5 FGs), 8 rebounds, 4 blocks, 7 turnovers
Mickael Pietrus (bench): 12 points (4 of 8 3 PT FGs)

Overall Game Statistics

FG%: ORL 55.4% (36 of 65) ATL 40.5% (30 of 74)
3 PT FG%: ORL 43.2% (16 of 37) ATL 25% (3 of 12)
FT%: ATL 72.4% (21 of 29) ORL 52.6% (10 of 19)
REB: ORL 37 (3 offensive) ATL 30 (8 offensive)
AST/TO: ORL 27/16 ATL 17/8

Other game stats and notes

-Four Hawks scored in double figures, led by reserve Jamal Crawford with 18 points, but shot just 5 of 15; Josh Smith added 16 points, 8 rebounds and Joe Johnson scored 14 points with 5 assists, but shot just 5 of 15
-The Magic starters combined to score 74 points on 28 of 45 FGs (62.2%), including 9 of 21 3 PT FGs; the Hawks' starters combined to score 49 points on 19 of 47 FGs (40.4%), including 1 of 7 3 PT FGs
-The Magic outscored the Hawks 88-63 from the field, including 48-9 on three pointers
-The Magic shot 20 of 28 on two pointers (71.4%)
-Johnson and Crawford combined to shoot just 10 of 30 for the Hawks
-Magic reserve Jason Williams scored 6 points on 2 three point FGs, and added 4 assists; Ryan Anderson grabbed 8 rebounds in 14:24 off the bench
-All of Pietrus's 8 FG attempts were 3 point attempts

Here is the complete recap and box score from nba.com.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Game 4 preview

Monday 8 PM TNT

The Magic will try to put Atlanta out of their misery Monday night as they attempt to sweep the Hawks out of the playoffs.

Here is the complete preview from Yahoo! Sports.

The Magic, who were only 2 1/2 point favorites Saturday, are 6 point favorites Monday over the Hawks.

Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics are giving the Cleveland Cavaliers a tough time in their series as Rajon Rondo's amazing triple double of 29 points, 18 rebounds, and 13 assists led the Celtics to a 97-87 triumph over the Cavaliers and a 2-2 series tie. The Magic will await the winner.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Game 3 ECSF: Magic 105, Hawks 75... Magic lead series 3-0

The Orlando Magic are one win away from their second consecutive Eastern Conference Finals appearance with yet another dominating performance against Atlanta, as the Hawks never had the lead in this game with the Magic solidly outshooting and outrebounding the Hawks. Five Magic players finished in double figures, with Rashard Lewis leading the way with 22 points on 8 of 13 shooting.

The last tie of the game was 11-11 with 6:49 left in the first when the Magic went on a 17-7 run and led 28-18 after one. The Magic maintained their double digit lead throughout the second quarter, and finished the quarter on a 9-2 run to lead comfortably 52-33 at the half. The Hawks, who were 34-7 at home this season, figured to make a run in the second half but never did, as the Magic continued to extend their lead in the third quarter and led by as much as 77-51 with under two minutes remaining before settling for a 79-55 after three. The Hawks never got closer than 21 points in the final quarter, and the Magic's largest lead was 90-59 at the 7:41 mark. The Magic cruised on to the 30 point win.

Magic leading scorers

Rashard Lewis: 22 points (8 of 13 FGs, 4 of 7 3 PT FGs), 5 rebounds
Dwight Howard: 21 points (6 of 8 FGs, 9 of 18 FTs), 16 rebounds
Jameer Nelson: 14 points (4 of 9 FGs, 5 of 6 FTs), 5 rebounds, 4 assists
Mickael Pietrus (bench): (4 of 10 FGs, 3 of 7 3 PT FGs), 4 rebounds
Matt Barnes: 11 points (5 of 9 FGs), 4 rebounds, 2 blocks

Overall Game Statistics

FG%: ORL 50.7% (36 of 71) ATL 34.9% (29 of 83)
3 PT FG%: ORL 34.5% (10 of 29) ATL 26.7% (4 of 15)
FT%: ATL 68.4% (13 of 19) ORL 67.6% (23 of 34)
REB: ORL 51 (10 offensive) ATL 34 (12 offensive)
AST/TO: ORL 21/9 ATL 9/8

Other game notes and stats:

-Three Hawks finished in double figures, led by reserve Jamal Crawford with 22 points; Josh Smith added a double/double with 15 points, 11 rebounds and Al Horford scored 11 points with 8 rebounds
-Hawks' All-Star SG Joe Johnson was held to 8 points on 3 of 15 shooting
-Horford led the Hawks with 3 assists
-No Hawks' player shot 50% or better
-The Magic starters outscored the Hawks' starters 75-47
-Vince Carter was the only Magic starter not to finish in double figures with 7 points on 2 of 5 shooting, but deferred to the other players and had 3 assists
-Other than Crawford, the Hawks' reserves scored a combined 6 points on 3 of 11 shooting
-The Magic reserves outrebounded the Hawks' reserves 18-6, with Marcin Gortat and Ryan Anderson each grabbing 6 boards
-Lewis (35:44) and Howard (38:22) were the only Magic players to play over 30 minutes: Howard finished with 4 fouls

Here is the complete recap and box score from nba.com.

Game 3 preview

Saturday 5 PM ESPN

Here is the Game 3 preview from Yahoo! Sports.

The Magic are 2 point favorites.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Game 2: Magic 112, Hawks 98... Magic lead series 2-0

After being embarrassed by 43 points Monday, Atlanta managed to stay competitive for three quarters against the Magic in Game 2 as they were more aggressive driving to the hoop and drawing fouls and connecting with their three pointers, but the Magic's superiority showed in the fourth quarter as the Magic put the game away with a 21-3 run and four Magic players finished with at least 20 points.

The game started as if it were going to be a Magic blowout early, as the Magic opened up with leads of 8-2 and 20-11 and finished the quarter with a 32-25 lead as Dwight Howard scored 18 first quarter points. The Hawks came on strong in the second quarter, opening with a 15-2 run to lead 40-34 and maintained a lead the rest of the half, as Howard sat much of the quarter to rest and picked up his third foul shortly after he came back in. The Hawks led 57-49 at the half. The Magic scored the first 9 points of the second half to take back the lead by a point, but the rest of the quarter was a seesaw battle which saw the Magic take an 84-83 lead after three after Jameer Nelson's buzzer-beating three pointer. The Hawks trailed 88-87 with 10:31 remaining when the Magic put the game away with their 21-3 run to lead 109-90 with 3:50 remaining, as the Hawks could get no closer than 12 points the rest of the way.

Magic leading scorers

Dwight Howard: 29 points (8 of 9 FGs, 13 of 18 FTs), 17 rebounds
Vince Carter: 24 points (9 of 16 FGs, 2 of 5 3 PT FGs), 7 rebounds
Rashard Lewis: 20 points (7 of 13 FGs, 3 of 8 3 PT FGs), 6 assists
Jameer Nelson: 20 points (7 of 14 FGs, 2 of 6 3 PT FGs), 6 assists
Mickael Pietrus (bench): 13 points (4 of 8 FGs, 2 of 3 3 PT FGs)

Overall Game Stats

FG%: ORL 55.9% (38 of 68) ATL 41.3% (31 of 75)
3 PT FG%: ATL 54.5% (6 of 11) ORL 39.1% (9 of 23)
FT%: ATL 96.8% (30 of 31) ORL 69.2% (27 of 39)
REB: ATL 41 (16 offensive) ORL 35 (8 offensive)
AST/TO: ORL 16/9 ATL 16/12

Other game notes and stats:

-Four Atlanta players finished in double figures, led by Al Horford with 24 points, 10 rebounds; Jamal Crawford added 23 points off the bench, Joe Johnson scored 19 points and Josh Smith 18 points with 9 rebounds; Marvin Williams led the Hawks with 11 rebounds
-Johnson and Crawford combined to shoot 12 of 34 from the field, but 5 of 10 on three pointers
-The Magic outscored the Hawks 63-41 in the second half on 21 of 34 shooting
-The Hawks made their first 28 FTs before missing one
-Howard played 39 minutes, and committed 5 fouls
-Pietrus scored 13 of the Magic's 15 bench points, while Crawford scored 23 of the Hawks' 25 bench points
-The Magic starters outscored the Hawks' starters 97-73
-The Magic outscored the hawks 85-68 from the field
-The five Magic starters combined to shoot 60% from the field (33 of 55)
-During the Magic's 21-3 4th quarter run, the Magic made 7 of 8 shots while the Hawks shot 1 of 11

Here is the complete recap and box score from nba.com.

Also, the All-NBA Team was chosen Thursday, with Dwight Howard a unanimous choice, along with LeBron James.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Game 2 preview

8:00 PM ESPN

Here is the Game 2 preview from Yahoo! Sports.

The Magic are 9 1/2 point favorites.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Game 1: Magic 114, Hawks 71... Magic lead series 1-0

The Orlando Magic unleashed total destruction on Atlanta, beginning early in the second quarter with the score tied at 27. The Magic went on a 17-0 run on their way to leading by as many as 46 points late in the game as all 12 Magic players scored and no Magic player played more than 29 minutes. Dwight Howard had his first double/double of the playoffs with 21 points, 12 rebounds, and added 5 blocks.

The first quarter gave absolutely no indication that the game would be such a slaughter, as the Hawks actually led by as many as 3 points. The Magic's largest first quarter lead was 25-21, and the quarter ended with the Magic leading 25-23. The last tie of the game came at 27 all early in the second before the Hawks went over 6 minutes without scoring. The Magic led comfortably at the half 53-33. The Hawks briefly pulled to 18 points early in the third, but the Magic outscored the Hawks 32-11 in the quarter as the Hawks went the last 5:31 of the quarter without scoring as the Magic led by an incredible 85-44 after three. The Magic maintained their huge lead in the final quarter, with their largest lead of 114-68 before a meaningless Hawks' three pointer to close the scoring.

Magic leading scorers

Dwight Howard: 21 points (8 of 10 FGs, 5 of 10 FTs), 12 rebounds, 5 blocks
Vince Carter: 20 points (7 of 16 FGs, 5 of 5 FTs), 6 rebounds
Jameer Nelson: 19 points (8 of 12 FGs, 3 of 5 3 PT FGs), 5 assists
J.J. Redick (bench): 10 points (4 of 9 FGs, 2 of 5 3 PT FGs)

Overall Game Statistics

FG%: ORL 52.4% (44 of 84) ATL 34.6% (28 of 81)
3 PT FG%: ORL 39.1% (9 of 23) ATL 15.4% (2 of 13)
FT%: ATL 72.2% (13 of 18) ORL 70.8% (17 of 24)
REB: ORL 53 (14 offensive) ATL 35 (10 offensive)
AST/TO: ORL 23/13 ATL 12/16

Other game notes and stats:

-Atlanta had just three players in double figures, with Josh Smith leading with 14 points (just 4 points after the first quarter), and reserve Zaza Pachulia with 12 points; Joe Johnson scored just 10 points
-Sixth Man of the Year winner Jamal Crawford of the Hawks shot just 1 for 11 for 5 points
-The Magic outscored the Hawks 70-52 on two pointers, 27-6 on three pointers, and 17-13 on FTs
-Magic starters Rashard Lewis scored 9 points with 7 rebounds, and Matt Barnes scored 4 points with 7 rebounds
-The Magic starting backcourt outscored the Hawks' starting backcourt 39-12
-The Magic outscored the Hawks 60-21 in the second and third quarters, and shot 57% during this stretch while the Hawks shot 24% during that same stretch
-Marcin Gortat scored 9 points with 6 rebounds off the Magic bench, and reserve Mickael Pietrus scored 8 points on 2 of 3 three point shooting

Here is the complete recap and box score from nba.com

Magic/Hawks matchups

Averages are for the playoffs

PG... ORL Jameer Nelson (23.8 ppg, 4.5 assists) ATL Mike Bibby (11.0 ppg, 2.9 assists)
Advantage... Magic
With Nelson healthy and playing at an All-Star level, this makes the Magic stronger than last year's Eastern Conference Champions; Bibby is a solid veteran at PG

SG... ORL Vince Carter (15.5 ppg, 4.0 rebounds) ATL Joe Johnson (20.9 ppg, 5 .7 assists)
Advantage... Hawks
Carter struggled with his shooting against Charlotte in the first round, but if he can play as well as he did the final two months of the regular season, it will negate much of the advantage the Hawks have here with All-Star Johnson

SF... ORL Matt Barnes (8.5 ppg, 5.2 rebounds) ATL Marvin Williams (9.6 ppg, 6.4 rebounds)
Advantage... Hawks
Even though Williams has a slight statistical edge over Barnes; Barnes' tough defense has been invaluable to the Magic

PF... ORL Rashard Lewis (15.8 ppg, 5 .5 rebounds) ATL Josh Smith (13.1 ppg, 9.7 rebounds)
Advantage... even
Lewis played solid against Charlotte and was the Magic's second leading scorer in the first round, but Smith's athleticism offensively and defensively could make things tough for the Magic

C... ORL Dwight Howard (9.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 5.0 blocks) ATL Al Horford (15.6 ppg, 9.9 rebounds)
Advantage... Magic
Obviously, Howard needs to stay on the floor and avoid the continuous foul problems that plagued him in the first round. Even so, he was still a force on defense against Charlotte despite his limited time. Horford was solid against the Bucks.

BENCH... ORL Mickael Pietrus (9.0 ppg), J.J. Redick (5.0 ppg), Marcin Gortat (3.8 ppg, 5.2 rebounds), Ryan Anderson (2.8 ppg), Jason Williams (1.0 ppg) ATL Jamal Crawford (15.9 ppg, 3.0 rebounds), Zaza Pachulia (4.4 ppg, 3.1 rebounds), Maurice Evans (1.9 ppg), Jeff Teague (0.7 ppg), Mario West (0.7 ppg)
Advantage... Magic
Hawks have sixth man of the year award winner Crawford, but the Magic's overall depth is arguably the best in the NBA. Other than Crawford, only Pachulia and former Magic swingman Evans see significant time off the bench.

OUTLOOK... Hawks deserve props for coming back strong in Games 6 and 7 against the Bucks after their embarrassing Game 5 loss at home. Magic are well-rested and ready, and Howard should have a much better overall series than he did against the Bobcats as long as he can stay on the floor. Pietrus will be ready to play for the Magic despite a sprained left ankle suffered in practice Sunday.

Magic in 5 games.

Here is the AP preview of the Magic/Hawks series.

According to sportsbook.com, the Magic are a -800 favorite (wagering $800 do win $100 plus the original amount bet) to defeat the Hawks in the series, while the Hawks are a +500 underdog (wagering $100 to win $500 plus the original amount wagered).

The Magic are 9 point favorites to win Game 1.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Magic finally find out second round opponent... it's Atlanta

After most people wrote off the Hawks after their embarrassing Game 5 home loss to Milwaukee, the Hawks came back strong in Game 6 and Game 7, dominating the Bucks. Game 7 wasn't even close, as the Hawks blew out the Bucks 95-74.

The Magic will host the first two games, with Game 1 Tuesday evening.

Magic's Howard finishes fourth in MVP voting

To no one's surprise, Cleveland's LeBron James easily won the MVP in a runaway, outdistancing Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, who finished second, and Los Angeles's Kobe Bryant, who finished third. Dwight Howard finished fourth, received three first place votes.

Here is the complete story from cbssports.com.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Wait continues for Magic as Hawks/Bucks go to seventh game Sunday

After their embarrassing loss to Milwaukee in Game 5 Wednesday, Atlanta staved off elimination in Game 6 in Milwaukee Friday night with a 19-0 third quarter run and defeated the Bucks 83-69. The Magic will play the winner of Sunday's game in Round 2, with the series beginning in Orlando either next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Here is the recap and box score from Game 6 from Yahoo! Sports.