NBA Playoff Blogger Faceoff: Cavs vs. Magic

By: 05.20.09  •  30 Comments

Welcome to our first ever NBA Playoff Blogger Faceoff, where we pit our favorite team-related writers against each other to let them tell why the teams they represent will win their first round matchups. We gave them no set format, no style guide – we just told them to do their thing. Check it out and join in the debate in the comments section.

Next up: Cleveland vs. Orlando
Written by Cleveland Frowns

The Playoffs finally start for the Cavaliers tonight.

After breezing through the Pistons and the Hawks the Cavs finally face a squad that could give them a series. In theory. In theory, Orlando presents a difficult matchup for the Cavs, who’ve had trouble defending dominant bigs like Howard and long athletic shooters like Hedo and Rashard Lewis. And that’s how it played out in the regular season, with the Magic being one of only two teams to take the season series from the Cavs.

But the Playoffs are different. And the Cavs have the real Superman. On and off the court, LeBron leads his team like nobody else in today’s NBA. He might as well be Coach. There’s no measure of LeBron’s value, but we can be sure that thanks to him, the rest of the Cavaliers are greater than the sum of their parts.

This leadership and focus is what Orlando lacks, and why they will lose to the Cavs despite having what is likely a more talent-laden roster, top-to-bottom. It would be a mistake to read too much into the Magic beating a broken-down Celtics team that was counting on Glen Davis to hit game winners for them. It would be a mistake to read too much into the Magic winning Game 7 in Boston. There should not have been a Game 7. Or a Game 6.

If you don’t believe us, ask Vegas. They’ve installed the Cavs as 8-1 favorites to win this series. Ask yourself why, if Orlando took two of three from the Cavs and gave them their worst beating of the season, would Vegas be practically begging you to bet on them?

Probably because they know something.

Maybe what they know has something to do with the fact that the Cavs have played roughly half the games that the Magic have so far this postseason? Before the Hawks series we worried that the long layoff would hurt the Cavs — that they would come out rusty. We suppose this was based on the idea that “no man needs a vacation so much as the man who just had one.” But the Cavs weren’t on vacation. They were practicing every day, biding their time, carefully planning the disposition of their next victim, eating home cooked meals, and sleeping in their own hyperbaric chambers, resting their legs juuust enough . . . but not too much. By the time the games started again, LeBron was jumping out of the gym.

See you in the Finals. We’ll face our demons there, Cleveland-style. LeBron vs. the Curse of Chief Wahoo. A truly epic clash.

Cavs in 5. 6 at the most.

By Eddy Rivera of Third Quarter Collapse

It’s going to be really hard.

But I don’t believe that the Cavs are going to romp over the Magic. Orlando matches up very well with Cleveland. Obviously Cleveland’s success thus far in the playoffs has been impressive. But take into account the level of competition they’ve been facing.

Get with this: Orlando matches up really well against Cleveland. They actually can stop the Cavs – at least those guys not named LeBron. To suggest they can’t do it is not fair to the Magic.

A lot of people around here are getting really excited by the past success Orlando has had against Cleveland. We can’t take that too seriously – it was the regular season. The main reason why Orlando has had success against Cleveland is because they’re one of the very few teams that can slow LeBron down a little bit. When he gets in the lane, he sets his sights on the Defensive Player of the Year. That’s intimidating even to LeBron. If Dwight gets in foul trouble, it will be open season for LeBron. LeBron will attack Dwight in the paint. But as Dwight has proven against everyone in the League, he can protect the rim.

Mo Williams and Big Z really struggle defending the pick-and-roll. Rafer and Dwight will definitely exploit that. While Hedo struggles with LeBron, we’ll rely on Rafer and Dwight to get easy baskets off of the pick-and-roll. Rashard has a chance to have a very big series. Anderson Varejao won’t be able to really stop him. I think there are a number of players who also have matchup advantages.

I like Pietrus a lot. My problem was that he was inconsistent during the regular season, so it prevented him to build momentum. Now, he’s peaking at the right time. He’ll be an X factor. He can try to body up LeBron. And offensively, he isn’t gun shy. He has a little bit of a swagger to him. I think that makes him a key cog in the series. If you look back during the regular season, his minutes were up when the Magic played the Cavs.

If Orlando wins one of the two games at the Q, they’ve got a chance. If not, kiss it goodbye. The Magic can beat Cleveland – they’re the best team in the East to do it. I don’t know that they will, but they’ll definitely put up a fight.

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