The conspiracy theory concerning the Dwight Howard is now moot, and perhaps the talk of the nouveau Superman can be put on mute.
Charles Barkley complained that Howard’s elbow was foolishly aggressive. This is the same Barkley who once tried to throw down with Shaquille O’Neal. If Shaq had landed the punch, how foolish would that have been?
But back then, the boys from Beantown had Kevin Garnett, who is the unequivocal leader of his team. As one analyst said, “He is the leader in leading.”
Some interesting questions come from the second-round clash between these two teams.
First, how does Boston propose to stop the allegedly "soft" Dwight Howard without Kevin Garnett?
Then, is Rajon Rondo the budding superstar everyone is beginning to think he is?
And why can’t Rashard Lewis play all the time as well as he played in Game Six against Philly?
In the absence of Dwight Howard in Game Six, Rashard Lewis stepped up for the Magic. He will need to be as (if not more) outstanding going up against Paul Pierce.
Pierce is a competitor, so much so that he claims he is the best player in the league. The duel between Lewis and Pierce has the potential to be Bird-Wilkins-esque.
On Orlando's side: Boston will have difficulty defending Dwight Howard. Similar to the Chicago Bulls of the late '90s with Bill Wennington, Luc Longely, and Scott Williams, the Celtics will throw their own three-headed monster Howard’s way.
The three individuals responsible for containing Superman are Glen Davis, Kendrick “I Just Lost My Best Friend” Perkins, and Brian Scalabrine. That’s 18 fouls to give, so playing aggressively shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
However, those three combined don’t equal enough kryptonite to stop No. 12.
On Boston's: Rajon Rondo is a superstar, it’s just a matter of it being known to people outside his green-and-white striped headband. Against Chicago, he was overshadowed by the heroics of Derrick Rose.
He takes care of the basketball, and he will score. Rafer Alston will struggle to offer much resistance.
Alias (the Band) Factor
For the unlearned in '80s music, Alias sang the song “More Than Words Can Say,” which includes the lyric I need you to know.
So who for each club would Alias serenade?
Orlando: J.J. Redick emerged in Game Six against the Sixers. He has the best shot of anyone, ever. Who else has their own Better Basketball shooting DVD? Nobody.
Orlando needs him to find his touch from outside, especially if Hedo Turkoglu doesn’t shoot well.
Boston: Perhaps Ray Allen’s nickname should be the "Magic Man." First you see him, then you don’t. It's "Shake and Bake."
Anyway, Allen has a tendency to disappear and struggle. He needs more of the 51-point-type performances and less of the Round-One-of-last-year’s-Playoffs efforts.
Orlando in seven.
Without their leading leader, the Celtics will have trouble getting past the Magic. They overcame a 41-win team in Round One, but Orlando was victorious 59 times in the regular season.
Not having Jameer Nelson will cause some problems for Orlando, but Dwight Howard will continue to lower the volume of his haters who say he's not an ideal post player.