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May 21, 2009

NBA Playoffs: Magic Dust Beats Chalk Dust

The game started with Superman Dwight Howard’s dunk bringing down the goal — literally — and the crowd in the “Q” oohed and aahed.  It seems like Howard doesn’t know his personal strength but Team Magic proved that it is strong enough to take down the Cavaliers.

When the game started the Cavs had all the momentum.  They have only lost two games at home all season, they had won their first eight playoff games – they seemed ready to sweep everyone out of their way to being champions.  They came out firing on all cylinders right from the get-go and dominated the Magic for most of the first three quarters. LeBron and the entire team seemed focused, forceful and fierce. They seemed invincible. The referees seemed to even help the Cavs at times by giving them calls that should have gone the other way.  This seemed like it would be an easy victory and the Cavs would blow the Magic out of the water.

LeBron had a terrific game – he was simply awesome but he alone cannot beat a team that can get really hot at anytime during the game because of their 3-point shooters. James even broke his career playoff high – he scored 49 points but his bench did little to help him offensively. For most of the second half it looked like the Cavaliers of old — they gave the ball to LeBron and watched him hold the ball for 20 seconds then shoot. That strategy won’t work against the Orlando Magic.

Coach Van Gundy strategy of putting Mickael Pietrus (who did a GREAT job) on James allowed Hedo Turkoglu to put more energy in his offense and he ended up with 15 points and 14 assists. In addition Zydrunas Ilgauskus is a terrible matchup for the young Super-strong Howard who had a sensational game and ended the night with 30 points and 13 rebounds. Illgaukus is too old and slow to defend Howard in the paint or guard Lewis and Turkoglu on the pick and roll. The Cavs weren’t able to get back in transition and seemed totally unprepared when the Magic kicked-out for threes off the fast break. Rashard Lewis had a terrific game and ended the night with 22 points.

Turkoglu and Lewis combined for 21 of Orlando’s 29 points in the fourth quarter and Lewis buried the game winning 3-pointer with 14.7 seconds remaining!

The “Q” crowd started the game oohing and aahing but filed out of the Quicken Loans Arena stunned and silent.

Game 2 tips off on Friday at 8:30pm ET on TNT.

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