I also believe the Celtics will best out the Magic, but besides experience, there are key reasons as to why the series actually favors Boston.
In that article, I mentioned that the Magic would come out slow and have trouble making their heavily relied upon jump shots. I predicted that Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis would suffer from rust, while Pierce, Allen, and Rondo would start clicking right away.
For the better part of the first 10 minutes, both teams were completely off and out of rhythm.
I don't remember the last time rust and exhaustion faced off quite like this. Both teams were definitely struggling, but for completely opposite reasons.
As the game progressed, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu made several trademark jumpshots—I didn't expect both to play so well. Turkoglu had his best game of the playoffs, while Lewis posted up in ways not seen since his Sonic days.
(This, in addition to his successful mid-range game, meant Lewis finished with a team high 18 points)
Redick put in a decent 12 points, while Pietrus did a very sufficient job off the bench with 17. Rafer Alston also sped up the Magic's notoriously slow transition game, something the Magic rarely did in the past.
Superman Dwight Howard got in his usual buckets, while Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo were struggling throughout the entire game.
At times, the Celtics seemed all but done after the Magic successfully made numerous and uncontested three pointers.
So how could the Celtics possibly advance? Especially with Courtney Lee coming back?
Turkoglu, Lewis, Howard, and Pietrus all put up sufficient scores. On the other hand, Allen, Rondo, and Perkins dished out sub-par numbers.
Yet, the game was ultimately a close one, as Orlando allowed an amazing lead to escape—again.
The Orlando Magic live and die with the jumpshot. If they are not making open baskets, the entire offense becomes stagnant. At the same time, their defense is often terrible and can't produce stops. Both these scenarios tend to work in unison, as when the offense isn't clicking, the defense completely collapses.
As a result, the Magic do not have the ability to close out games. No matter how great the lead, a comeback by the opposing team is always possible (Philadelphia and Boston both overcame huge deficits in their Game 1's vs. Orlando).
The Magic were able to crawl away because Turkoglu, Lewis, Howard, and Pietrus all put up good numbers. (On top of Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo's very poor shooting)
What happens when one or two of those guys struggle? What happens when Ray Allen and Rondo get hot again? (Only a matter of time).
One thing that Boston is not given enough credit for is their defense. It is still their main strength and it is as good as anyone team's in the playoffs.
Perkins kept Dwight Howard from dominating the game (Howard finished with 16 points), which is all the Celtics ask him to do.
Unlike Orlando's jumpshots, Boston's defense will carry through the entire series.
The Celtics can live with Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis, and Rafer Alston throwing up tough and/or contested jumpshots. A feat more than capable for the Celtics. Limiting the Magic's already one dimensional offense will tremendously cripple the Magic.
Unlike Shaquille O'Neal or Yao Ming, Dwight Howard's offense is not based around him. At least not as much as it should be. He often disappears in games, furthering Orlando's reliance on the jumpshot.
As the Magic's offense becomes stagnant, the Celtics have more than enough proven weapons to capitalize on Orlando's weak defense.
There are going to be times where Orlando cannot make buckets, while they simultaneously collapse on defense.
This group of Magic players have never proven that they can go deep within the playoffs.
The guys in the green have.
Mark my words—the Boston Celtics will indeed go on to defeat Orlando.