Magic at an Advantage As They Await a Familiar Conference Finals Foe

Edward BittsContributor IMay 11, 2010

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were the most consistent team in the NBA during the regular season on their way to a league best record of 61-21.  

However, they find themselves in the midst of a furious battle with the gritty Boston Celtics in the only Conference Semi Final match-up remaining.  

In fact, the winner of this series will be the only team to lose a game in the second round of the playoffs.

With a dominant performance over the Utah Jazz last night, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers are set to square off against the Phoenix Suns , who just dismantled a veteran San Antonio Spurs team, in the Western Conference Finals.  

Game one is set for Monday, May 17 at 9:00 PM on TNT.

More importantly to Cleveland and Boston, a much-improved Orlando Magic team that ousted them in the playoffs just last season completed the most dominant sweep in NBA history by shooting down the Atlanta Hawks .  

They are now a perfect 8-0 in the post-season and have the advantage of resting while they wait on what will be an opponent they sent packing in 2009.

If Cleveland or Boston wish to overtake the defending Eastern Conference Champions, winning their current series in six games is crucial.  

Whoever wins tonight at Cleveland (8:00 PM on TNT) will have a chance to close out the series in Game Six in Boston on Thursday, giving them two days off in preparation for the Eastern Conference Finals which would then begin on Sunday.

If the series goes all the way to a grueling Game Seven on Sunday, the winner may find themselves out of gas and with just one day of preparation before Game One against dominant Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic next Tuesday.  

Meanwhile, the Magic would be as fresh as possible, with seven days of rest since playing their last game.

One man who isn't buying into the fact that the Magic are at an advantage is Orlando's own Stan Van Gundy.

"Last year Cleveland won their first eight games and we beat them in the conference finals," said the Magic head coach after closing out the Hawks in Atlanta last night.

 "The one thing you have to understand about playoff basketball is you've got to get beyond the last game ans the last series."

While Van Gundy may think his Magic don't have the upper-hand, comfortably awaiting on an opponent you have recently taken care of sure seems like a better option than clawing your way through just to earn a rematch with a team that has your number.

It will all be settled on the court starting next week, but it seems as the ball is in the Orlando Magic's court, with a second straight trip to the NBA Finals in sight.