In round one of the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs, the Orlando Magic (59-23) will compete against the Philadelphia 76ers. The third seed Magic swept the three-game series against the sixth seed 76ers. And although the Magic have not lost to Philadelphia in the regular season, they have not exactly been dominant. Their largest margin of victory was 10 points, while the other two games were decided by two and six points.
The Magic were a decent defensive team, allowing opponents 94.4 PPG. They scored an average of 101.0 PPG, earning a good-sized plus-6.7 PF/PA. Orlando ended the season with a five and five mark. The 76ers won their final game of the season, which moved them up from seventh to sixth seed. But they struggled at the end, going four and six in their final 10 contests. The Sixers’ PF/PA average was a mere plus-0.1 as they scored 97.4 PPG while allowing 97.3 PPG.
Orlando, which was the best team in the Southeast Division, was led by star center Dwight Howard. Howard averaged 20.6 points and 13.8 rebounds per game. He’s a massive shot blocker, averaging 2.9 BPG. Howard’s downfall is at the foul line where he hit just 59% of his frees. Former Rocket point guard Rafer Alston, acquired at midseason, is a fine two-way player, averaging 5.1 assists, 12.0 points and 1.76 steals per game. Other important point scorers include Rashard Lewis with 17.7, Hedo Turkoglo with 16.8 and Jameer Nelson with 16.7. Lewis and Nelson are both adept at stealing the ball.
In the Atlantic Division, the Philadelphia 76ers finished 21 games behind the Celtics. That was good enough for second place. The top scorer for the Sixers is shooting guard Andre Iguodala who was good for an average of 18.8 PPG. Four 76ers averaged better than a steal per game. Iguodala was tops with 1.60 SPG, while Andre Miller and Thaddeus Young each averaged 1.33 steals per contest. Under the basket, Elton Brand, who blocks 1.55 shots per game, manages to take down 8.8 rebbies while scoring 13.8 points per game. Miller, who plays point, dishes off 6.5 APG. He’s second in scoring, averaging 16.3 PPG. Guard Lou Williams is the fifth man on the team averaging double digits with 12.8 points per game. Williams, who has quick hands, takes away 1.05 balls per contest. The Sixers are a good defensive club, which will serve them well against Orlando.
In the end, Philadelphia will have a tough time beating the Magic. Orlando’s Dwight Howard is a dominating player and there are plenty of other guys on the roster who can also score. Additionally, Orlando offers excellent defense. Philadelphia will have to figure out a way to score points and that won’t be easy. Still, the good news is that the guys from the City of Brotherly Love are going into round one healthy. The Magic are dealing with injuries to Turkoglo and Lewis, which could slow down their point production and defense. This series goes to the Magic in seven.