Wow! Magic are going to the NBA Finals! I thought it was possible all along but I wouldn’t admit it until I saw it. After all these years since Shaq and Penny, the Magic are back in the Finals and playing against the Lakers. So here it is:
LA Lakers v. Orlando Magic: If the Magic had Jameer Nelson, I would confidently predict Magc in 6. The Lakers have a lot of trouble defending quick, penetrating point guards (see Aaron Brooks). And there is a tiny chance that he may be back! But assuming he doesn’t make a miraculous comeback, the outcome will be harder to predict. If Alston can play like he did in the Cavs series, he can cause some of the same problems for the Lakers defense. Howard will probably not be as dominant against LA, but he has easily outplayed Andrew Bynum during the regular season. I just hope Dwight can knock down free throws because LA has a lot of fouls to give. Courtney Lee and Mikael Pietrus will also have their hands full with Kobe, but again the Rockets showed you can slow Kobe down and that can cause serious disruptions for the Lakers. Overall, I am cautiously optimistic about our chances. I know we won’t get swept again like the last time we were in the Finals. We have momentum, focus, and the inside presence on our side. Lakers on the other hand have cruised a lot and their role players lose confidence easily. Game 1 should be a good barometer of how the series turns out. I may be going out on a limb here, but I can’t pick against my team in the Finals. Let’s Go Magic. Beat LA! I wish I could watch the games. Orlando in 7.
Also in French Open news, Rafa Nadal lost in the fourth round to a 23rd seed? Wow! And this is the man who’s only lost 7 sets EVER at Roland Garros! Wow!
It appeared questionable at times but the Magic finally took care of business and looked like the smooth offensive team that everyone expected. Now it’s time to take on Lebron and the Cavs for a shot at our first Finals appearance since Shaq and Penny got swept by the Rockets. Let’s Go Magic!
Cleveland Cavaliers v. Orlando Magic: Once again Cleveland has over a week off while their opponent is coming off a 7 game series. I feel cautoiusly optimistic about our chance to upset Cleveland (yes it would be an upset) because: 1) we looked pretty good offensively in Game 7, 2) we blew out the Cavs late in the season after Jameer went out 3) Dwight will make life hard on Lebron on the defensive end and Cleveland’s big men can’t stop Dwight on offense. Now that being said, this is the Cavs team that hasn’t lost in the post season yet and with Lebron in the lineup anything’s possible. Still, I’m going out on a peronally biased limb here to call the upset. Orlando in 7.
LA Lakers v. Denver Nuggets: Up until Game 7, the Lakers looked very vulnerable struggling against the Yao-less Rockets. Denver on the other hand easily handled Denver. This series though should be different. I think LA got a wake up call in the second round and Kobe and the gang will be more focused against a higher ranked opponent. Look for a series of entertaining and emotional high scoring games. In the end though, Denver has no one to guard Kobe. LA in 6.
Enjoy the games because I probably will not be able to from Paris. Thank goodness for ESPN.com though. Let’s Go Magic!
So I didn’t do too bad the first round. Basically all the teams I picked advanced except San Antonio. Of course some of the series went longer or shorter, but if I were doing a bracket it would still mostly be intact. Now let’s take a look at the second round, again starting with the East.
Cleveland Cavaliers v. Atlanta Hawks: Cleveland continued to look unstoppable as it swept Detroit in the first round and I expect to see Lebron continue their dominance against the Hawks. I am sorely disappointed by the Hawks after what was probably the worst 7 game series ever as each game was a blowout one way or another. I am interested in seeing the Josh Smith/Lebron matchup and how the Cavs handle Joe Johnson, but the Hawks need to find some consistency. The Hawks should give Cleveland more of a challenge than the Pistons did, but I don’t see the results being that different. Cleveland in 6.
Boston Celtics v. Orlando Magic: I’m going to be very unpopular in this town, but I love it. If only we didn’t have finals right now, I would definitely try to go to the games. I am cautiously optimistic about my Magic’s chances. If the C’s struggled with the likes of Joakim Noah and Brad Miller, they will absolutely get destroyed by Dwight Howard. On the other hand, I am worried about our perimeter defense. I’m not too comfortable with JJ Redick defending Ray Allen. Bottom line, if we had a healthy Courtney Lee, I would definitely say Orlando. Now, I have to add the caveat that Boston is fatigued and cannot stop Dwight Howard. Orlando in 7.
LA Lakers v. Houston Rockets: The Rockets have finally gotten out of the first round while the Lakers handled the Jazz almost as easily as the Cavs handled Detroit. Now LA’s offense will collide with Houston’s D. Houston has both Ron Artest and Shane Battier to throw at Kobe, but LA also has Bynum and Gasol to guard Yao Ming. The Rockets were able to win with a collective effort against the young Blazers in the first round, but I think their lack of T-mac (or another crunch time scorer) will really hurt them this round and thus I think LA will prevail. LA in 6.
Denver Nuggets v. Dallas Mavericks: So I underestimated Dallas in the first round. However, I will not overestimate them now and give them any chance against Denver. Denver thumped the Hornets by 58 points in the first round. Although I don’ t think they’ll replicate that against the Mavericks, I don’t see them struggling too much either. Chauncey Billups has really turned this team around, and this Dallas team is done. Denver in 6.
The NBA Playoffs: It’s amazing. Let’s Go Magic!