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Orlando Magic News & Notes: Predictions & Breakdowns, Howard Thinks The Magic Should Win The Series


The Eastern Conference Finals matchup between the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic starts Sunday afternoon and the predictions and breakdowns of the series are rolling in.

Dwight Howard thinks the Magic should win this series.

"The visualization process for Dwight Howard is simple.See yourself winning. Win.That’s why when Howard says, “We should win this series,” as he did after Friday’s practice and again after Saturday’s practice, it’s not overconfidence or bravado. It’s his way of making sure the Magic don’t even think about losing.“We have to believe it,” Howard said to the throng of media gathered around him. “We have to believe that we’re going to win. If nobody on the team believes it, we’re not going to do it. We all believe we can win a championship and that’s the way we have to approach this series that we’re going to win. We’re going to win a championship. Nobody can think about losing.”"

Tania Ganguli has that story here.

The time is now for the Magic.

"If the Magic can’t see an opening here to run through, they are wasting 24-year-old Dwight Howard’s muscles and 33-year-old Vince Carter’s motivation to come home.They are old enough now to know better, seasoned with veterans who are in their primes or clinging to them, hardened by last season’s failed trip in the NBA Finals.The time is right and the field is ripe for the taking, or so it seems.“We definitely have to seize this opportunity,” small forward Matt Barnes said. “To get to this point, with the health and team we have now. … Every team that makes a championship run has a small window. This is our time right now. So we have to take care of business.”"

Brian Schmitz has that story here.

Mike Bianchi says it’s Orlando’s time to shine.

"“It’s about time we won a title,” Magic point guard Jameer Nelson says. “It’s easier said than done, but we’re going to try to make it happen. We have just one goal: to bring home a championship.”Never has the goal seemed so attainable. This appears to be the greatest team in Magic history, even better than last year’s squad that lost to the Lakers in the finals. Even better than the Shaq- Penny finals team of 15 years ago.“They’re better than us,” admits Dennis Scott, who played on the 1995 Magic team. “We had a great starting five, but they’re deeper. Got a better bench.”"

You can find that story here.

Sean Deveney of The Baseline previews the series.

"Wild cardBoth Boston and Orlando have gotten surprise playoff contributions from reserves who are coming off so-so seasons — Pietrus for the Magic and Tony Allen for the Celtics. Pietrus is averaging 10.3 points in the postseason while making 51.2 percent of his 3-pointers; Allen hit double-figure scoring in three of the Celtics’ last four games. Such performances would boost the benches of the two teams, but just as important will be how those two defend against top-notch scoring threats. Pietrus will be used as a stopper on Paul Pierce; Allen will spend considerable time guarding Vince Carter."

You can find that story here.

The Point Guards will play a pivotal role in this series.

"Point guards Jameer Nelson and Rajon Rondo have been two of the biggest stars of this postseason – Nelson leading the Magic to consecutive sweeps with his dynamic play running the controls and Rondo threatening to post triple-double type of numbers every game with his scoring, rebounding and passing.Nelson, the Magic’s little man playing with the proverbial chip on his shoulder, welcomes the challenge that Rondo brings. He has put to rest his uninspiring play in The NBA Finals last spring by being the Magic’s most consistently dynamic player this postseason, averaging teams highs in points (20.5 ppg.) and assists (5.3 apg)."

John Denton has that story here.

Tim Povtak thinks this matchup will decide the winner of the series.

"It’s unlikely that he [Nelson] can contain Rondo by himself, but his aggressiveness at the other end should put added pressure on the Celtics defense, something the Cavaliers didn’t do.“Rondo’s had a chance to play off the other point guards. If he plays off Jameer, Jameer will dominate the series,” said Barnes. “He won’t have the chances to roam like he has in the past. Rondo’s one of the best point guards in the league, but Jameer is up there, too.”Although the Magic held a 3-1 edge in regular season games against the Celtics this season, Rondo outplayed Nelson overall. The Magic might not be so fortunate if that happens again because Rondo’s game has risen considerably in the playoffs. And so has Nelson’s."

You can find that story here.

Matt Moore of ProBasketballTalk takes a look at the lineups for each team here.

The Celtics have learned some important lessons they can apply to this series.

"While Boston did a good job making the opposing team’s superstar work for his points in the first two rounds, much of its success stemmed from keeping the supporting casts quiet. That will be a challenge against Orlando, which has five players averaging double digits in points this postseason, led by point guard Jameer Nelson (20.5 points per game) and shooting guard Vince Carter (16.9). Rashard Lewis (16.4) and Dwight Howard (15.4) are close behind, while Mickael Pietrus adds a kick off the bench.The key defensively for Boston will be limiting the 3-pointer, which Orlando lives and (rarely, it seems) dies by. The Magic have chucked 232 triples this postseason, second only to Phoenix, which has played two more games.Boston showed vulnerability to the 3-point shot at times when Quentin Richardson and Wade got hot in Round 1, but Cleveland’s inability to sustain a perimeter attack surely contributed to its demise."

Chris Forsberg of has that story here.

The Boston Globe has a slideshow to explain the keys to the series here.

Jeff Clark of Celtics Blog wonders how the rotations will be different.

"Also, the rotations are different. I’m not familiar with the finer points of the Magic rotations, but I know that having Garnett in the fold means relying less on Big Baby. Plus Rasheed has 6 fouls and an outside game that could cause some trouble at some point. Also, Tony Allen could prove to be a best to Vince Carter and their other perimeter shooters.Rondo will have to stay close to Jameer instead of roaming for steals. And his drives to the basket will be much more challenging with the big guy waiting for him. Garnett can’t expect to dominate the post like he did in Cleveland so he’ll be much more of a jump shooter."

You can find that story here.

Ron Borges believes this is a very different Celtics team than the one the Magic saw during the regular season.

"Might Orlando, which is the betting favorite for the series, find a way to beat the Celtics? It might, but understand this: The team it’s facing is not the one that limped through the winter and early spring.The team it’s facing now is the best of the Celtics. It is the team Doc Rivers said impressed him when training camp began – so much he felt it was better than the one that won the NBA title two years ago.“We started out great and then, obviously, we fell apart with injuries and all kinds of other issues,” Rivers said after the C’s eliminated the Cavs. “It was tough the last three weeks of the season because we had to make a choice."

You can find 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 hisRSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).