I take a look at the matchups for the upcoming second-round series between the Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic.
Without Kevin Garnett, it appears that the Orlando Magic may have the upper hand. But is it so?
Will "Big Baby" be able to stop the Turk? Will Howard dominate the paint? Step right in and share your thoughts with me.
Rajon Rondo vs. Rafer Alston
I think this is going to be a good matchup, as both are tough guys with similar builds.
But Rondo is just playing fantastic basketball and along with the age difference, I'm predicting he will dominate Alston, unless they start whacking Rondo on his way to the basket and he starts missing those free-throws...
I'm giving this round to the Celtics 10-8.
Ray Allen vs. J.J. Redick
Unless Redick can somehow erase the "bust" sign on his forehead with consistent performances similar to the one he served us in Game Six of Round One, this will pretty much be a no-brainer.
Ray Allen has been phenomenal in filling in the gap caused not only by the absence of Kevin Garnett, but also by a struggling Paul Pierce.
And ask any coach in the NBA which player they would like to have on clutch time and the answer would be... Ray Allen. I'm giving this one also to the Celtics 10-8.
Paul Pierce vs. Rashard Lewis
This will be a very interesting matchup. Paul Pierce hasn't been himself since the playoffs started. He seems to be suffering from some sort of Garnettiteless (a disease caused by the absence of Kevin Garnett) mixed with a type of Beentheredonethatite (another disease, this one caused by the lack of an unachieved goal).
On the other side, Lewis has been pretty consistent throughout the First Round series and has a significant size advantage. I hope Pierce proves me wrong, but I'm giving this to the Magic 10-9
Glen Davis vs. Hedo Turkoglu
This one is difficult to predict, because "Big Baby" has been playing some pretty good basketball, filling in for the injured Garnett.
However, I don't believe that the First Round matchup against the Bulls frontcourt may be used to measure Davis' real ability to produce the necessary numbers. I'm anticipating that he will find it more difficult to overcome a more tactically advanced and skillful Turkoglu.
On the other side, the Turk is not the most consistent player out there. That's why I'm scoring a tie in this matchup. 10-10.
Kendrick Perkins vs. Dwight Howard
In theory, this one is a no-brainer. Really, Dwight Howard is currently the best big man in the game and, although Kendirck Perkins has been proving a lot of people wrong, he is no matchup for Superman.
But I said in theory, because if the Celtics figure out a way (even without Kevin Garnett) to keep the ball from reaching the big fellow, they may limit his numbers and eventually stand a chance against him.
Having said this, I'm scoring this 10-8 in favour of the Magic anyway.
Eddie House, Stephon Marbury et al. vs. Mickael Pietrus, Anthony Johnson et al.
If Glen Davis was coming off the bench, I would be inclined to say that the Celtics would have an advantage on the rotation.
However, "Big Baby" is starting for the injured Kevin Garnett and the Celtics bench was everything but consistent in the First Round series against the Bulls. Part of it resulted, in my view, from not-so-good rotation management by Doc Rivers, but still the guys didn't convince me.
On the other side, there's really not much to work with, but Pietrus and Johnson seem to know exactly what is expected and Gortat didn't compromise when he was called to fill in the gap created by the suspended Howard.
Until the Celtics bench can prove me their worth it, I'm splitting this one between both teams 10-10.
57-56 in favour of the Boston Celtics. That's my scorecard. Which means that we are probably going to see another close series, probably going as far as to Game Seven.
Unless Dwight Howard is able to really dominate the paint with 20-20 performances, I'm predicting the Celtics will win in 6 or 7. What do you think?