A Touch of Magic: Orlando Headed to Finals for First Time in 14 Years

Connor GreenCorrespondent IMay 31, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - MAY 30:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic hugs Orlando Magic owner Richard DeVos on the court after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers of the Orlando Magic in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2009 Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 30, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

When the NBA playoffs started, many thought that it was a foregone conclusion that the Cleveland Cavaliers, with the NBA's best record at 66-16 and arguably best player in LeBron James, would breeze through to the finals.

That seemed inevitable after the Cavs quickly disposed of Detroit and Atlanta in just four games each.

The Orlando Magic, on the other hand, had just come off of a six game series with Philadelphia and a seven game series with defending NBA champion Boston.

Surely, LeBron and Cleveland would once again easily win and face Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals, right? Well, maybe not.

The Magic defeated the Cavaliers 4-2 in six games to secure their first finals appearance since 1995.

Orlando was definitely the better all-around team. They hit the Cavs outside with Hedo Turkoglu, Rafer Alston, Rashard Lewis, Courtney Lee, and Mickael Pietrus, as well as dominating inside with Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat. Gortat, Pietrus, and Anthony Johnson all contributed off the bench.

The first two games of this series, in Cleveland, were both thrillers. The Magic took game one, 107-106, after Lewis hit a three with 14.7 seconds left. The Cavs then won game two, 96-95, following a buzzer-beating shot by James.

Games three and four took place in Orlando, and were entertaining as well. The Magic won game three, 99-89, in an incredibly physical game that had 61 total called fouls. Orlando then took a 3-1 series lead in game four in a wild 116-114 overtime victory.

The Cavs pulled away late in game five in Cleveland to win 112-102 and send the series back to Amway Arena in Orlando for game six.

Despite being outscored 50-45 in the second half, an 18 point halftime lead was enough to lift the Magic past the Cavs 103-90 in game six for the decisive fourth victory.

Kobe versus LeBron? Not this year.

Instead, Orlando will face the Lakers in the NBA Finals. Remember, the Magic were one of just two teams to sweep the Lakers in the regular season, going 2-0.

This time, there is much more on the line.