Orlando Magic vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Game 1 Preview and Pick

Orlando Magic +9 at Cleveland Cavaliers -9 O/U 184 8:30 PM ET Wednesday May 20, 2009 on TNT
By Jason Green at Predictem.com

Tonight the Orlando Magic are in Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers. The Cavs have not lost in the playoffs so far and LeBron looks like he is on a mission to get his first NBA title. These 2 teams split the 4 game series this season with each team winning at home. In the playoffs MVP LeBron has been awesome averaging 32.9 ppg, 9.8 rpg, and 6.8 assists per game. The Cavs are the best defensive unit in the league and they will have to keep Dwight Howard from having a huge game and they cannot allow the Magic to bomb away from 3-point land.

As a team the Cavs are a better rebounding team and if they can out-rebound the Magic in tonight’s game and in the series they should win. Many are already penciling the Cavs in the finals, but the Magic handed the Cavs their worst loss of the season. The Cavs only lost 2 games at home all season. The Cavs should be fresher in this game, as they have rested for several days and they have only played 8 games in the playoffs and the Magic have played 13.

Hoops bookies have the Cavs as 9-point favorites in this game with a total around 184. The Cavs are posted at -450 as major favorites and the Magic are posted at +350.

The Magic come into this game after beating the Celtics in game 7 on Sunday night 101-82. The high scorer in that game was Hedo Turkoglu going for 25 points on 9/12 shooting. For the game the Magic shot 36/70 for a FG% of 51.4%. On D the Magic held the Celtics to only 29/74 for a FG% of 39.2%. The Cavs come into this game after beating the Atlanta Hawks 84-74 last Monday. The high scorer in that game was King James going for 27 points on 9/22 shooting. For the game the Cavs shot 30/70 for a FG% of 42.9%. On D the Cavs held the Hawks to 23/73 for a FG% of 31.5%.

This season the Magic ranked 4th in scoring (101 ppg) and the Cavaliers ranked 13th (100.3 ppg). On D the Cavaliers were the best in the league ranking 1st in points allowed (91.3 ppg) and the Magic ranked 6th (94.4 ppg). The Cavaliers were a better team on the boards this year, as they had a rebounding differential of +3.3 rpg and the Magic were at +1.1 rpg.

This season the Magic were an NBA best 49-32-1 ATS and Cavs also solid at 48-33-1. In terms of Over/Under games this season the Magic were 41-40-1 and the Cavs were 37-44-1.

On the injury front neither team is reporting any significant injuries.

The Magic have their work cut out for them facing a Cleveland team that has won 8 straight playoff games and has not been tested in the post season so far.

Howard will probably have a big game tonight, but his supporting cast is key in this game. Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis have to help Howard out in the scoring department to have any chance in this game.

Much like Howard, LeBron will get his points, but Mo Williams and Delonte West have to help him out on offense.

The Magic have to find a way to score on the stingy defense of Cleveland.

In their game 7 win over the Celtics the Magic were on fire from downtown going 13/21 from behind the 3-point arc for a 3-pt FG% of 61.9%. If they shoot like that tonight it will allow Howard to dominate the paint and the Magic will have a chance in this game.

Rafer Alston has to provide some offense and he has to hold onto the rock, as when he turns the ball over the Magic are in trouble.

Howard has to be a monster on the boards and he can’t allow the Cavs to have too many 2nd chance opportunities.

If the Magic get blown out in this game this may be a short series, but if they can make it close or even steal.

Jason’s Pick: Three things come to mind when I see a +9 hung on this game. 1. The Magic are red hot and how can that be. 2. Emotional let down after smoking out Boston at the Garden. 3. When two good teams play and theres a huge spread, that usually means favorite/blowout. Despite the negative handicapping sentiment, I don’t see how Orlando can’t stay within such a big number. I figure this to be a home and home series with each team winning on it’s own court, but I think the Magic sneak in under the number tonight for a cover.