Why Hedo Turkoglu Will Be More Important Than Dwight Howard in Round Two

Sean StancillSenior Writer IMay 3, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - APRIL 24:  Hedo Turkoglu #15  of the Orlando Magic warms up before Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wachovia Center on April 24, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers won 96-94.  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 Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

In order for the Orlando Magic to have any chance of reaching the Conference Finals, they will need all of their players to play smart, physical, and sound defense as well as intelligent offense if they were to warrant a fair fight from the Defending Champs.

One player we know for sure will be there on both ends on the floor, Dwight Howard, will undoubtedly make his presence felt without Kevin Garnett manning the post.
Other suspect players like Rashard Lewis, Rafer Alston, and reserves Mickael Pietrus, and JJ Redick may get theirs.
But unquestionably their most important player heading into their second round against the Boston Celtics is Hedo Turkoglu.
For starters, he will be defending Paul Pierce and will be occasionally asked to switch on more fleeter players like Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo.
But most likely his day and his play will begin and end with Paul Pierce and his own actions on the court.    
Turkoglu must learn to be more resistant to battling the officials when calls do not go his way either on offense or when guarding Pierce. 
Not only can getting into a shouting match with the refs' penalize your team but it can also take you out of your game and if Hedo isn't 100 percent focused when guarding perhaps the most craftiest player in the NBA today, it will be a major blow to the Magic.
He registered seven technical fouls in the regular season and has already picked up two in the playoffs; both in Game Six of the Magic's series-clinching win over the 'Sixers and he's also the only player so far in the postseason to have been ejected from a game.
If Pierce can coax Turkoglu into a few fouls early on in the game before the switch occurs, it could really change the game for both sides of the floor, obviously an advantage for the C's. 
With Hedo on the bench, the Magic loses a number of things:
1. Most importantly they lose one of their best three-point shooter and their best clutch player down the stretch; the one true guy that can really rival Pierce at the small forward position in the playoffs (other than LeBron James).
2. They also lose their "third guard" as Turkoglu will often direct the offense himself and push the team forward through offensive sets and will either look to penetrate towards the rim and find the open man or simply use his massive advantage at 6'10" to look over his defender at the rim.
3. They're blatantly not as good a team without him on the floor just as any team is without one of their best players. 

If he goes out, the Magic have a number of less appealing options such as keeping either Alston or reserve Anthony Johnson at point guard and either inserting Pietrus or shooter JJ Redick at the 2-guard slot and moving Lewis up from the 4 to small-forward and then planting Tony Battie or Martin Gortat at power forward and of course keeping Howard at the five.

The drawback with this lineup is that they become a couple of steps slower, lose their playmaker and the only player on their squad that really excels at creating his own shot.

And just imagine how ugly the lineup would be if Howard was sitting on the bench for whatever reason.

Or the Magic could play to one of their strengths which would be to play small and keep either point guard on the floor, allow Redick to stay at shooting guard and plug-in Pietrus at small forward and keep the front court generally the same.

With this new line-up the Magic are now quicker off the dribble and they also gain a major boost of athleticism in the form of Pietrus and more three-point shooters with Redick and once again Pietrus. 

Mickael also is a good on-ball defender and is known to block a few shots as well and that coped with his length could really disturb Paul Pierce on the defensive side of the ball.

However the major problem with this line-up is it would allow Ray Allen to attack JJ Redick as he most certainly will and if Allen gets hot it may smell the end for Orlando.

Because he's taller, longer, stronger, and just a better overall athlete than Redick, Allen will either drive to the rim and bank on being fouled which will result in a trip to the line where he's just about automatic or he can step-back and nail a three-pointer in your as Joakim Noah found out repeatedly in Round One.

The trade of Keith Bogans for the rarely-used Tyronn Lue who hasn't played since April 15th, has in a way come back to haunt them.

With the Lee injury, the Magic suddenly find themselves short of athleticism and another option from deep coming off the bench and Keith Bogans certainly possesses just those qualities.

Which points directly back to the main argument, the Magic literally cannot afford Hedo Turkoglu to get in foul trouble.

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