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Orlando Magic News & Notes: Matt Barnes Will Chase Ray Allen, Bill Russell Comparisons


Matt Barnes is going to guard Ray Allen while Vince Carter d’s up Paul Pierce.

"During the regular season, Barnes usually defended against Pierce, while Carter usually defended against Allen.Barnes acknowledges that he’ll have to chase Allen all over the court.“That’s tough,” Barnes said. “I’ve had a lot practice doing that. I chase J.J. [Redick] a lot in practice. Ray’s a great shooter. J.J.’s a good shooter. J.J. will hopefully be there one day. But the constant movement is what you have to worry about. You know that he’s never out of a play even if he’s on the weak side.”"

You can read the full story here.

Ben Q. Rock uses synergy sports to sort through the decision here.

Alex Kennedy previews the game by taking a position-by-position look at the individual matchups and you can find that here.

Josh Robbins does the same here.

Stan Van Gundy doesn’t consider the Celtics beating the Cavs a major upset.

"“Cleveland did have the best record, but Boston struggled throughout the year with injuries, especially Garnett and Pierce, ” Van Gundy said. “When they’re healthy, which they are, I don’t know why people would be . . . I mean, some people were calling it a major upset. I don’t know how a team that is essentially the same two years removed from winning a championship, and is healthy, pulls a major upset.“I think it’s the whole LeBron James thing; there’s a lot of people in the media that can’t fathom him getting beat.There’s a lot of people that just — Oh, if you’ve got LeBron James, you’re gonna win every night, and no matter who is on the other team it’s a major, major upset.“Call it an upset if you want because they were the underdog, but Boston’s pretty damn good. Now everybody goes into the What’s-Wrong-With-Cleveland mode instead of … we can never in sports just look and say: ‘You know what? That team’s pretty good.’”"

Tania Ganguli has that story here.

With Kevin Garnett back in the fold, the Celtics like their chances.

"Lewis said the best plan against KG is to “keep the ball away from him or keep him as far as away from the basket as possible.”Lewis said he expects Garnett to make a difference this time.“It’s definitely a big difference,” he said. “He’s the anchor of their defense, a great offensive low-post player. Not only that, he’s a good defender and shot-blocker. Kevin was somebody they were missing last year and it’s not going to be easy to beat them again this year like we did.”"

Brian Schmitz has that story here.

The Celtics aren’t old, they’re just experienced.

"“That lets you know that they are still one of the best defensive teams in the league,’’ said Magic forward Rashard Lewis, who averaged a team-high 20.4 points against Boston last spring and another 18 points per game this season versus the Celtics. “Boston is going to try and beat you up with their defense and they’re not going to just let you run up and down and score 100 points. They want to get stops and try to beat you on the defensive end.’’The Magic went to work Friday in practice on trying to figure out a way to solve Boston’s hard-nosed defense. Off since Monday’s four-game sweep of the Atlanta Hawks, the Magic rested on Tuesday and Wednesday and practiced Thursday without knowing who their opponent would be."

John Denton has that story here.

Josh Cohen looks back at last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinals series between the Celtics and the Magic here.

John Schuhmann goes inside the numbers to learn more about the series.

"3. If you love great defense, you’ll love this seriesBoth the Celtics and Magic went against below-average offenses in the first round (Miami ranked 19th offensively in the regular season, while Charlotte ranked 24th). But in the conference semifinals, they both shut down one of the top five offensive teams in the league (Cleveland ranked fourth and Atlanta ranked third).When you put two great defensive teams together, you’re going to get some low-scoring basketball. And that’s exactly what happened when these teams met in the regular season. The average score of the four games was Magic 88, Celtics 87. The games were played at a pretty slow pace, but the teams also combined to score just 94.1 points per 100 possessions, which is far worse than the Nets were offensively this season (98.1)."

You can find that story here.

Neil Paine of previews the series here.

I interviewed the guys at Gino’s Jungle here. You can see my answers to their questions here.

Dwight Howard is drawing comparisons to Bill Russell.

"Russell was the first NBA player who literally controlled a game by his defensive prowess, blocking and changing shots with his athleticism, instincts and desire.Howard has more than just scratched that same surface.“Dwight is becoming Russell-ish,” Smith continued. “Times change, athletes are bigger, stronger today, but if you want to compare apples to apples, they (Howard and Russell) are very comparable. What people don’t give Dwight enough credit for is that he’s a smart defensive player. He anchors a defense, and he knows where guys should be. He does things you can’t chart. He alters, changes shots. He may not get a block, but the guy had to shoot it two feet higher than he wanted to.”"

Tim Povtak has that story here.

Kendrick Perkins has another difficult draw but he’s not backing down.

"Perkins couldn’t have had two tougher draws in consecutive series. But at least he won’t have to alter his mind-set to brace for Howard.“They both have the same moves on the block,’’ Perkins said. “So it’s really like guarding the same type of guy.’’Perkins and Howard can be each other’s Kryptonite. Howard’s dunks have put Perkins on a handful of posters. Perkins’s defense has been the reason Howard has complained to referees.They finished the regular season with 15 technicals apiece, and each was brought along by the same teacher."

Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe has that story here.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, a contributor on the Fansided Front Page and at Sir Charles In Charge. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).