NBA Beat Writers, Round 2

Steve ResnickCorrespondent IMay 5, 2008

The Orlando Magic answered the critics and took care of the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the NBA playoffs. However, in the next round, the Magic will meet their real foe.

The second round looks to be a series, as the #3 Orlando Magic will face the #2 Detroit Pistons.

Last season, the Pistons ended the year for the Magic after sweeping them in the playoffs in the first round...but this year, the Magic are here to play.

When writing articles, most writers like to look at the history of a team and see what has changed. In my opinion, no team has looked better when comparing the Magic of last season to the Magic of this season.

Last year, Dwight Howard was the lone star on a young, but disappointing team. Hedo "Turk-a-flu" Turkoglu was playing as if he was wearing a weight belt the whole season and Jameer Nelson looked lost as the starting point guard. There was also the distraction of two college stars not getting any playing time (to the dismay of many fans) in the likes of James Augustine and J.J. Redick.

This season was a big turnaround, despite the fact that neither Redick nor Augustine got much time. Dwight Howard matured and starting dominating the paint even more than last season. Turkoglu was a new player, dominating smaller small forwards on opposing teams and showing a nice passing game, as well. The Magic signed a big free agent in the form of Rashard Lewis and despite playing the power forward position instead of his usual small forward position, he showed his versatility and challenged many defenders with his athleticism.

Detroit, on the other hand, did not have many changes. Carrying over a great team from the previous year, the Pistons brought the challenge of dominating the East, yet again. Chauncey Billups continued his dominance at the point, while Tayshaun Prince and Rashard Lewis also worked hard at improving during the off season.

This second round series will, most likely, be looked at as a joke because on paper, the Detroit Pistons are much, must better than the Magic. Position-by-position break downs show the Pistons with the upside at PG and SG...but, in my opinion, the Magic are better at SF and C with the PF position pretty equal. What will happen? Will the Magic surprise most "experts" and show that experience doesn't necessarily the most important tool? Or will the Pistons show the Magic that it takes full team maturity to become a powerhouse in the NBA?

Only time will tell...but I wouldn't bet against either team.