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Cavs vs. Magic

NBA PICKS - JANUARY 2009

1/29/09

As arguably the two most improved teams in the Eastern conference and in the league this season the Orlando Magic and the Cleveland Cavaliers are no longer second rate teams compared to the defending champion Boston Celtics.

With the vast improvement on defense by both the Cleveland Cavaliers as a team and LeBron James individually the Cavs are playing their best basketball in the franchiseís history. The addition of Mo Williams at point guard finally gives the Cavs the ball handler and floor general they have so desperately needed since LeBron James came to town back in 2003. Now that the Cavs have Williams running the point LeBron James no longer has to play a type of point forward position like Scottie Pippen did with the Chicago Bulls during their championship years. With LeBron being able to roam free with a capable point guard in Williams who can both score and be a playmaker, King James has stepped up his game and turned his Cavs into legit title contenders along with being the leading candidate for this seasonís NBA MVP.

The Orlando Magic came into this season with more team chemistry and a dominant Dwight Howard. Last season Howard was a big force in the paint, but this year he is a monster on both the glass and in the scoring category. This kid has gotten so good in such a short time that having a 20-20 (points-rebounds) game is no surprise anymore. Not only is Howard a dominant force on the offensive side of the floor, but he has also improved his defense much like LeBron and is arguably the best all around center in the game.

 

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The Boston Celtics are still the team to beat in the Eastern conference with the Big Three still intact and their play virtually identical to what it was in their championship campaign last season, but this year it will not be as easy to get to the NBA finals with both the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers playing just as well as the defending champions, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

Thursday nightís match up between LeBronís Cavs and Howardís Magic will an all out battle of two great Eastern conference teams looking to prove they are the new team to beat in the East. This game will have a playoff atmosphere for sure! Although the Magic have the edge on offense with four starters scoring about 17 points a night in Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu the Cavs defense can be suffocating and could put the Magic offense to the test.

This inside game will be huge in this match up as the Cavs are still without center Zydranus Ilgauskas and will be going up against the best center in the league in Dwight Howard. With big Z out and Howard being an imposing force in the paint the Cavs will be forced to double team him constantly which will open up the three point shooters for the Magic. One of the big attributes of the Magic is their three point shooters. With Nelson, Lewis and Turkoglu all lights out from deep Orlando is a match up nightmare.

The Cavs on the other hand have arguably the best player in the NBA right now in LeBron James who can literally take over a game at will and create havoc for any opposing defense. This game should be close and probably will come down to the wire, but in the end the Orlando Magic might be a little too much for the Cleveland Cavaliers to handle at this point in the season. Unless Mo Williams and LeBron James have another huge night like they did against the Sacramento Kings the other day with LeBron having a triple-double and Williams going off for 43 points, the Magic will get the win at home on Thursday.

 

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