Why the Orlando Magic can Beat the Cleveland Cavaliers
May 19, 2009 by AlexV
The Orlando Magic did what many people thought they would, although not as fast as some people thought, and that was stop the injury-riddled Boston Celtics from any chances they had of repeating as champions. It may seem to some as though the Magic are not ready to stand the test that is the efficient basketball playing Cleveland Cavaliers who are led by the, this year, super-cool LeBron James. However, the adversity they faced in the Boston Celtics series (most notably games four and five) has helped them mature into a team that can definitely beat the Cavaliers and perhaps even in convincing fashion.
What about the Cavaliers looks like they should just run through the Orlando Magic with ease? That they are efficient, every player knows their place, and they all feed off of LeBron James’ confidence? Sometimes, that’s just not enough when you can’t match up well with your opponent. And I’m talking pure plain and simple physical matchups.
Let’s start with the most obvious… the 6 foot 11 inch Dwight Howard. There are three options to guard him; Anderson Verajao, Ben Wallace, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. First off, Verajao is 6 ft 11, so not bad. Anderson is very tenacious and plays with a lot of energy, but he does not have the scoring nor the speed or power to truly offset a Dwight Howard. Ben Wallace is 6 ft 9 and is a former four-time defensive player of the year. But when you factor in his digression at 35 years of age, it may be too much to ask of him to consistently keep Howard at bay. Finally, the 7 foot 3 inch Ilgauskas has the height advantage, but he is not known for his defense, nor does he have the body strength to prevent Howard from getting to the line for some free throws, and with “hack-a-Dwight” not always being a safe option, this could pose problems.
After Dwight Howard, Verajao will have to look after Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu. These are two strong and tall forwards who also exceed Verajao in his strength and speed, and most obviously, scoring. Verajao can at best, produce one, maybe two nights, where he can match one of these men scoring wise, but one of two and only one or two times is not good.
But this is not all that Verajao will have to worry about. The Magic still have two more big men scoring threats that will be coming off the bench in Mikael Pietrus and Tony Battie, and this does not bode well for the Cavs, even if they are top two in the league in defense.
Raefer Alston and Anthony Johnson together can easily offset Mo Williams, who is more of a streaky scorer, and Williams’ backup, DeLonte West, who also needs space to score, or a clear lane to the hole. Whereas he could get a few lanes, he’ll have Dwight Howard standing under the basket.
This should be no easy task for either team, but what the Magic’s advantage is that they do not have to alter their game-plan or rotations too much to deal with Cleveland’s size. Cleveland most likely will have to. So, in that regard, this should be more of a strategical challenge for the Cavaliers than it will be for the Orlando Magic.