Orlando Vs. Detroit
ONE - Eastern Conference
Orlando Magic (8th seed) Vs. Detroit Pistons (1st seed)
The Orlando Magic (40- 42) have a tough task ahead of them. Finishing two games under 500, the Magic have lost all four regular season games against Detroit this year. Orlando enters the series having played well down the stretch, winning seven of 10 including their last four. The Pistons (53- 29) made it to the Eastern Conference Finals last season and won the title in 2004. Detroit has plenty of veteran talent and one of the best defenses in the league.
Magic guard/forward Grant Hill (14.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.1 APG) played his first six seasons—his best—in Detroit. Since leaving the Pistons, Hill has been hampered by injuries, which have diminished his contributions. Although he is no longer a premiere player, he is still capable of contributing solid numbers.
Inside, forward/center Dwight Howard (17.6 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 1.9 BPG) is a 60% shooter from the floor. He can dominate the boards and is aided by the additional rebounding provided by forward/center Tony Battie (6.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 0.5 BPG) and the smooth shooting of guard/forward Hedo Turkoglu (13.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.2 APG).
Still, Detroit has the advantage inside and out in this series. Forward/center Chris Webber (11.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 0.7 BPG) and power forward Rasheed Wallace (12.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.6 BPG) are both point scores and ardent rebounders.
Outside, shooting guard Richard Hamilton (19.8 PPG, 3.8 APG, .341 3-P%) and point guard Chauncey Billups (17 PPG, 7.2 APG, 1.2 SPG) combine to make one of the best two-way backcourts in the game. Billups has had to deal with a groin strain and Hamilton a sore thigh but both should be in the thick of the playoffs.
This contest looks like a complete overmatch with the Pistons being in the driver’s seat. Although the teams are fairly even in points per game and rebounding, there’s enough of a disparity in defense and foul shooting, along with an all around talent mismatch, to make a big difference. Orlando needs some magic to take this series.
Maddux Sports Series Prediction:
Detroit Pistons in 5 Games