This matchup has lost a lot of its potential luster since the news that Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard will be unable to play in the series due to back issues. This leaves a group of subpar players, with the likes of Hedo Turkoglu and Ryan Anderson as your leaders, against a young and deadly team in the Indiana Pacers. While the Magic won 3 of 4 in the season series, this was with their young star center. Long story short: this doesn’t look good for Orlando fans.
How the Pacers can Win: This shouldn’t be too difficult. The Magic are not a playoff team without Dwight Howard. If there is one negative for the Pacers in this series, its the fact that Turkoglu and Anderson have the length to contain Pacers star Danny Granger. Despite this, I see Granger having a huge series. Without Howard, he is easily the best player in the series, and I expect him to show that. You add on the extra effectiveness of Roy Hibbert, and the sudden emergence of former Hornets star David West, and you have a team that should cruise through the first round.
How the Magic can Win: This will take some creativity. The biggest thing that the Magic have going for them is their extensive playoff experience. Much of this team was in tact when the Magic made their run to the Finals a few years ago, save for of course Superman. The Magic will have to hit shots, plain and simply. If JJ Redick can have a big series, and Anderson and Turk are making their shots, the Magic have a shot at pushing this series. But as mentioned several times already, its going to be tough. If Orlando can steal a game in Indiana, they may make the young Pacers panic, and extend the series longer then it should.
Our Prediction: I’d love to go out on a limb and bust out the brooms on this one, but the Magic have enough shooting talent to catch fire and steal a game here. Without their star though, that’s about as effective as I think Orlando will be. Indiana should have an easy time here, winning in 5 games, and getting some much needed rest before their likely matchup with the Miami Heat.