If you were around this time last season, you probably remember the Q&A's I did with a couple of Pistons bloggers to get the other team's side of things heading into round one. This year, Zach McCann from
Depressed Fan: What are you hearing about the health of Rashard Lewis (knee) and Hedo Turkoglu (ankle)? Any concern on your part that Hedo will miss time, or Lewis won't be full speed?
Orlando Magic Daily:
They both could've played Wednesday, but Stan Van Gundy decided to
keep them on the bench to be safe. I'm a lot more worried about Hedo's
ankle than I am Rashard's knee. While Hedo's injury is just a minor
sprain, an ankle injury can linger and it could affect Hedo's
quickness. That's worrisome, considering Hedo isn't all that quick to
begin with and he's matched up with Andre Iguodala, one of the most
athletic players in the league.
Rashard is suffering from knee tendinitis - it's the kind of thing
that will affect him more in a few weeks than it will in this series.
He's been playing through the injury since the all-star break, so I
don't expect to see much of a drop-off from what we've seen the last
To be honest, though, I'm not all that concerned about the injuries.
DF: Rafer Alston, adequate fill-in for Jameer Nelson, or crossing your fingers that he doesn't kill the team in the playoffs?
He's no Jameer Nelson, that's for sure - but he is an adequate
fill-in for Jameer Nelson. The Magic just beat the Cavs by 30 points
with Rafer Alston at the helm - the guy isn't a total scrub. Alston is
not in Nelson's league as a scorer, but Alston is faster and maybe
even a little bit better than Nelson in the transition game. Alston
does a lot of good things, and it was a fantastic move by Otis Smith
to acquire him at the trade deadline.
That said, I'm trying to figure a way that Andre Miller doesn't
average 25 points a game in this series. Alston isn't a bad defensive
player, but Miller's size and ability to create off the dribble could
be very problematic for the Magic. When these teams met in February
(the only meeting with Nelson and Elton Brand both out), the Sixers
ran a lot of isolation sets for Miller. He made 10 field goals, and I
believe only one or two of those shots were assisted (I don't have the
numbers in front of me). But, as always, Dwight Howard's presence will
cover up a lot of those mistakes.
DF: Down one, 10 seconds to go in the fourth, who do you want taking the shot for you guys?
It's pretty well-documented that the Magic don't have a go-to
crunch-time guy, but I'm highly confident in either Hedo or Rashard
taking a last-second shot. Those are the two players most likely to
take it. Hedo will almost always have the ball in his hands in a
Down one with 10 seconds to go, I'll tell you what the Magic will do.
They'll run a pick-and-roll at the top of the key with Hedo and
Dwight. Rashard Lewis will be in the right corner, and Rafer Alston
will be in the left corner. Courtney Lee will be on the left wing.
After going to his right off the screen, Hedo will drive down the
right side of the paint and either throw up a runner off the backboard
or kick it out to Lewis waiting in the corner. Lee will rotate over
and Lewis will have the option shooting a 3, hitting Dwight in the
paint or swinging it to Lee for a 3. More often than not, though, Hedo
will attempt the shot.
DF: Thursday night, it takes a collapse by Chicago and an overtime win by the Sixers for the seeding to play out the way it did. Were you happy to be facing the Sixers rather than the Bulls?
Oh, I wanted the Sixers, and for reasons you can probably
understand - going into Wednesday night, the Sixers were on a six-game
losing streak while the Bulls had won five straight games. The Bulls
have given the Magic some trouble this season, while the Magic are 3-0
against the Sixers. I respect the Sixers - they played the Pistons
well last season, and they seem like a scrappy team that can get under
your skin - but I don't know that they have an answer for all the
weapons the Magic have (primarily Dwight Howard)
DM: What's your series prediction?
Magic in 5. I think there will be one game - probably game three -
where Orlando's shots aren't falling and Dwight Howard maybe gets
called for a few early fouls. I'm expecting a blowout Orlando win in
game one, followed by a close victory in game two.
Many thanks to Zach for answering my questions. Check out Orlando Magic Daily
for updates on the enemy and also look for my answers to his questions.