Cleveland Cavaliers (4-3 SU, 3-4 ATS) vs. Orlando Magic (5-2 SU, 4-3 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, Wednesday, November 11, 2009, Amway Arena, Orlando, Fla. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Cavaliers -2/Magic +2
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The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic put together a compelling seven-game series in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals in which the Magic won to advance to the NBA Finals. Now, the two teams will meet for the first time on Wednesday night since Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Cavaliers started off slow at 0-2 but rebounded with three straight wins to get to 3-2. Then, they lost by a point to the Bulls before winning their last game 100-91 in New York. The Cavs had a commanding lead over the Knicks, but the Knicks battled back in the fourth quarter to make it respectable. The Cavs have had four days off since the win over the Knicks, so they have had plenty of time to prepare for the Magic.
In the 2009 playoffs, the Cavs had problems matching up with the Magic. But things have changed since then. Hedo Turkoglu, Courtney Lee and Rafer Alston are no longer on the Magic. Instead, they now have Vince Carter. And the Cavs have added Shaquille O’Neal along with Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon.
LeBron James is averaging about 26 points, eight rebounds and eight assists per game this season. Shaq has been a help but not as much as expected. He is averaging about 11 points and seven rebounds per game, splitting time at center with Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Mo Williams is second on the Cavs in scoring with 15.7 points per game.
Dwight Howard leads the Magic in scoring and rebounding with 20 points and more than 11 rebounds per game. Carter is second in scoring with more than 15 points per game. The biggest surprise has been Ryan Anderson, a versatile 6-foot-10 power forward who can step out and shoot from beyond the arc. The second year player, who played his rookie year for the Nets, is averaging 15 points and five rebounds per game. However, Anderson injured his ankle last week and is not expected to play against the Cavs.
Rashard Lewis has not played yet this season for the Magic. He was suspended in the offseason for the first 10 games of the season, so he will not play in this game.
Howard will be able to defend Shaq just fine, so that is not an issue for the Magic. The question will be whether or not Shaq and Ilgauskas can stay with Howard. LeBron will be guarded for much of the game by Carter, a matchup LeBron should be able to exploit. Mickael Pietrus is the best perimeter defender for the Magic and he guarded LeBron most of the time in the playoffs, but he comes off the bench. With Anderson out, Brandon Bass will start at power forward for the Magic. The other starters for the Magic are Matt Barnes and Jameer Nelson, and Williams and Parker for the Cavs.
The Magic were 3-1 against the Cavs in the regular season last year and 4-3 in the playoffs. In those 11 games, the Magic won four times by at least 10 points, while the Cavs never won by more than 10 points.
Ryno’s Pick: The Magic had the Cavs’ number last season, but this season could be different, especially right now. Lewis is suspended and Turkoglu is now in Toronto, so the Cavs can match up better with the Magic. Defending Barnes and Bass are much easier than defending Lewis and Turkoglu. Even if Howard, Nelson and Carter are able to score well against Shaq, Williams and LeBron, respectively, LeBron will be able to do what he wants against Carter or Barnes. Plus, LeBron has many more weapons to utilize this season than he did last year. He has Shaq, Moon and Parker in addition to all of his returning teammates. The Cavs have had four days to prepare for revenge, and the Magic are not fully healthy right now and are coming off a road game at Charlotte on Tuesday (the Magic won, 93-81). LeBron and the Cavs will get it done on the road. Take the Cavaliers.