In a match up of two of the hottest teams to streak through the 2010 NBA playoffs, the sharpshooting Orlando Magic will look to oust the Boston Celtics for the second straight year. One thing stands in their way; however, Rajon Rondo and the veteran Celtics.
Rondo has arguably been the most impressive player in this year's postseason, averaging 18 points a game while allotting about six assists and 11 rebounds per game. He shined in Game Four of the Eastern Conference semifinals, racking up totals of 29 points, 13 assists, and 18 rebounds, MVP numbers without a doubt. The defensive strategy of the Magic will be interesting to witness regarding Rondo. Slack off and let him shoot, or play defense and watch him get in the paint, it's a pick-your-poison type scenario for Orlando.
The Celtics have also had strong contributions from the big three in the postseason. The three combine for 51.3 points per game, and now that Kevin Garnett is healthy, optimism seems to be abundant in Boston.
Nevertheless, the Celtics have a tough road ahead of them, as they match up against the Magic, who have yet to lose a game this postseason. Orlando has had ample time to rest and prepare, having swept the first two rounds. Jameer Nelson, along with Rondo, has caught fire in the playoffs, averaging nearly 21 points a game, leading a balanced Orlando attack throughout his eight games. Nelson has turned it over a mere 11 times in 266 minutes of postseason play, and will look to not fall susceptible to Rondo's quick hands on defense. Nelson is more of a pure shooter than Rondo, so Boston must look to defend him well, especially during the pick-and-roll.
The Magic have a big three of their own comprised of Defensive player of the year Dwight Howard, match up nightmare Rashard Lewis, and newcomer Vince Carter. They have a combined average of 48.7 points and 21.3 rebounds per game.
This series will prove to be an interesting one; just as exciting, or even more exciting than last postsaeson's duel. Despite the two teams being relatively similar in talent, the Magic are much more rested, younger, and deeper, three aspects that will undoubtedly make a difference in the series.
Each squad has one respective advantage regarding starting lineup match ups. Boston has the edge at small forward, while Orlando has the upper hand at center, which is why the bench will play such a large role in this series.
When they stretch the floor and shots are falling, the Magic are almost impossible to hold down. The bench for the Magic is formulated to come in to the game and do exactly that, stretch the floor and shoot the three ball. JJ Redick has found his niche with the Magic second team, becoming a solid part of the rotation. Players like Mickael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat continue to solidify their rotation spots, and Ryan Anderson and Jason Williams are proven players who make an impact.
There are many wild cards on the Boston bench, including an aging Rasheed Wallace, and an over-confident Tony Allen. There is Glen Davis, though, who has proven to me to be the only dependable bench threat to the Magic.
Prediction: Magic in six