The math is simple: No KG + Tight 7 game series with 7th seed = legions of doubters. I don't blame people for doubting the Celtics. The math seems pretty convincing. Charles Barkley is the first person to step up and pick Orlando.
Garnett, (the Celtics) struggled against the Bulls. I don't think they
have a chance and Orlando wins it in 6."
Here's the thing about the Magic: They're not the Bulls. They're not the young, athletic, high-flying squad that the Bulls are. The Bulls offense is created around the perimeter. Orlando's offense has to run through the post. That slows the game down, so the Magic won't run like Bulls did. Orlando wants you to double Dwight Howard so he can kick it back out, and the ball can be worked around to the open three point shooter. That's good for the Celtics. This matchup favors Boston, where the Bulls obviously didn't.
Obviously, not having Garnett hurts. But not having Leon Powe actually hurts more when it comes to Dwight Howard. Kendrick Perkins will be guarding Dwight Howard. If he's in foul trouble, then it's up to Big Baby. Not having Leon takes another strong, albeit undersized, option out of it. The reason the Celtics were so good against Orlando earlier this year was because they could single cover Dwight Howard and prevent the Magic's shooters from getting clean looks. The C's will still single cover Dwight, but the question is… for how long?
On offense, the Celtics have been able to get into the paint against Orlando, but then they get destroyed by Dwight coming over to block shots out of nowhere. They're going to have to be aware of his presence, even when they don't see him. They've got to know that if he's in the game and you're in the paint, he's a shark and you're a bleeding seal. Even if you don't see him around, you know he's gonna show up soon, and it's gonna get ugly when he gets there.
So it's up to Dwight's guy to make himself available. Everyone in the world knows that Dwight is coming from the help side to try for a massive block, so his man has to slide into a spot to get a pass. Dwight will commit to the attempted block… he won't be able to recover in time if the pass can be made to someone in the paint. Take advantage of his aggressiveness. I don't think Orlando's going to make the right defensive rotations. I think there are easy baskets to be had here.
A lot of analysts are going to make the mistake of oversimplifying this game by saying "If the Celtics had that much trouble with the 7th seed, imagine what the 3 seed is going to do." That's lazy and it doesn't take into account the make up of any of the teams. If you take a closer look, you'll see that the way these teams are built, the way they play their games, will make for a much different feel to this series as compared to the last series. You won't see 120-118 games. These teams are built for 95-89 games. That's the type of basketball that favors the Celtics.
Boston in 6.