I'm not ready to say that the Celtics will win the series, although believe it or not, I'm heavily leaning that way. (No I'm not a Celtics fan, in fact I've rooted against both teams most of the season)
Most people are taking the Magic over the Celtics to win the series (for many good reasons no doubt), but I'm going to say it right now that the Boston Celtics will easily march over the Magic in Game 1.
Why would I say such crazy things?
I've never been sold on the Magic this entire year. They are a great regular season team, but I'm not convinced they can effectively win during the playoffs.
The problem with Orlando is that they depend too much on the jump shot, don't involve Dwight Howard as much as they should, and to me they play too slow in transition.
In Orlando's Game 1, Philadelphia won the game due to Orlando collapsing in the fourth quarter, followed by an Andre Iguodala clutch shot. (A clutch shot that wasn't even needed if the 76ers also executed)
The Magic did their traditional slow walk up the court, and died with the jumper.
The Celtics, Bulls, and Magic are all great quality teams in the East. The 76ers with what they had going into the postseason, were not.
While the Celtics never looked terrible against the Bulls, the Magic often times looked terrible against a very sub-par 76ers team.
I believe Boston Celtics will come out surprisingly energized, because they came off a tremendous effort and this new series will unload some of the mental pressure that built up during games 6 and 7.
I'm not saying the Celtics will not be physically tired, but they will start clicking right off the bat. Buckets will seem easier, as I expect Pierce to make open mid-range shots and Ray Allen's hot streak to carry over.
Rondo will not be as hesitant as he was during the last two games, as I believe he will attack the basket once more. Rondo was as good as anyone in the playoffs before the fouling incident. Without the Chicago Bulls in his head anymore, Rondo will put up big numbers again. He is by far the better scorer compared to Alston.
On the contrary, the Orlando Magic will find it almost impossible to find their jumper during the first quarter. Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis were sub par and decent, respectively. (Against a very lackluster 76ers defense)
I find it hard that Hedo Turkoglu after struggling, will suddenly just find his sweet spot after the layoff. Lewis will most likely be rusty during the first quarter, and I expect him to play below his average with his jumper.
So that leaves a couple things.
Dwight Howard, J.J, Redick/Courtney Lee's probable absence, and the rest of the Celtics.
Superman Dwight Howard will get his points, but if Kendrick Perkins and Brian Scalabrine can at least keep him from dominating the game without MAJOR foul trouble, the Celtics are going over.
With Pierce's consistent mid-range game, Ray Allen dominating the three point arc, and Rajon Rondo attacking the basket again, (along with some decent points from Eddie House) The Celtics can live with Dwight Howard.
I wouldn't be surprised if Howard doesn't get many balls thrown his way for some stretches of the game, as The Magic sometimes seem to forget he's on the floor.
Especially when Turkoglu struggling and J.J. Redick on the floor, Rashard Lewis and Rafer Alston need to play above their averages.
And I don't see that happening. Not with the long layoff. Not with the Celtics who have played their hardest basketball and are mentally right in tune for another high caliber game.
And who won the NBA Title last year?