Magic smother Cavs

If there was any doubt heading into Thursday night, it’s clear now: the Magic are only looking up at the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference. Courtney Lee and Mickael Pietrus frustrated LeBron James all night, crowding his jump-shot and letting Dwight Howard help out when he got close to the basket. LeBron finished 10-of-27 from the field, and made just three free throws. LeBron repeatedly cried foul, but the refs stood strong against the league’s biggest superstar. UNSTOPPABLE DWIGHT Anderson Varejao tried, but there wasn’t much he could do against Dwight Howard (22 points, 18 rebounds). Six of Howard’s rebounds were on offense. A big reason for the Magic’s dominance: A rebounding advantage of 11. A week ago, the Celtics opted to play Howard one-on-one with Kendrick Perkins, and keep the other defenders on the Magic’s array of shooters. With Varejao and rookie JJ Hickson on the block, the Cavs didn’t have that option. They sent numerous double and even triple teams at Dwight, and that led to a lot of open three-pointers. Jameer Nelson made 4 of his 6 attempts from behind the arc. Zydrunas Ilgauskas will be healthy in the playoffs, but is the great white oaf really going to slow down Dwight? I’ll say it now and I’ll say it again: the Magic will dominate the Cavaliers in a seven-game series. It would go six games at most. SECOND-HALF DEFENSE Stan Van Gundy told the team in his halftime speech: “If we’re serious about winning a championship, we better get serious about defense.” The team responded by allowing 32 points in the second half, and turning a 1-point halftime deficit into a lead that swelled to as much as 23 points. CELEBRITY WATCH At Thursday night’s game: Tiger Woods, NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson and singer Nick Lachey.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily