Point guard: Mo Williams vs. Rafer Alston
Williams and Alston have one thing in common: they’re inconsistent. Orlando will be Cleveland’s most difficult matchup so far, and it’s important for those teams that both players step up their game, and just make their shots. I know it sounds a bit simplistic, but this is what their respective teams need from them right now. Since the Cavs need slightly more offense from him than the Magic need from Alston, I’m saying: Advantage: Cavaliers.
Shooting guard: Delonte West vs. Courtney Lee
This is easy. I think it’s time to put Courtney Lee back into the starting line-up. But for now: West plays D, passes, rebounds, scores, does everything. A great player in the Cavs’ system. Advantage: Cavaliers.
Small forward: LeBron James vs. Hedo Turkoglu
Turk played great in game 7, but he’s going up against the MVP now. Let’s keep this one short, shall we? Advantage: Cavaliers
Power forward: Anderson Varejao vs. Rashard Lewis
I thoroughly enjoyed watching Lewis play against the Celtics. A true scorer, and seems to be the number one offensive option for the Magic. Varejao is a scrappy defender and a great actor, but he can’t stop Lewis. Advantage: Magic.
Center: Zydrunas Ilgauskas vs. Dwight Howard
Two completely different players. One, a crafty veteran with a deft shooting touch, the other a brute force with unmatched athleticism. Z can lure Howard out of the paint, creating space inside for LeBron to drive, but on the other end, how the hell will Z stop Howard? Advantage: Magic.
Except for Ben Wallace and Joe Smith, I have never been impressed by Cleveland’s bench, but Orlando on the other end has Michael Pietrus, Anthony Johnson, J.J, Redick and Marcin Gortat to give the starters a breather (and sometimes Tony Battie is thrown in there, too). Pietrus can score in bunches, and even finished some of the games against the Celtics. Advantage: Magic.
Coaching: Mike Brown vs. Stan Van Gundy
I’m not a big fan of either, but while watching Orlando battling Boston, I can understand Dwight Howard’s frustrations more and more. There are some decisions when the game is on the line that I simply don’t understand. And while I’m at it: Dwight Howard still doesn’t get enough touches. He only had two 20-point games against the Celtics, and the most shots he got were 16 (Game 6). Advantage: Cavaliers.
What I’d say:
Cavaliers in six. Like I said earlier: I do believe the Magic will cause some trouble, especially with the match-up problems because of Turk, Lewis and Howard, and let’s not forget a decent bench, but the Cavs have been playing at such a high level, Orlando needs more than magic to beat them in a seven-game series. Man, what a lame last sentence. Sorry ‘bout that.