So my friend and I got into a heated debate about which squad is going to be better between the Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics. Now I love my friends to death but it makes it so difficult to debate something with someone that just got into basketball. You know who you are! So if you’re reading this then please feel free to leave comments!
We all know what happened in last year’s playoffs. So I am not going to rub that in (as much).
The first area of debate is which team lost more valuable free agents? Orlando lost Matt Barnes to the LA Lakers and Boston lost Tony Allen to the Memphis Grizzlies. Both of these guys were defensive specialists for their respective teams. I just have a feeling that Orlando will miss Barnes more than the C’s will miss Allen.
Reason: Barnes was a defensive force when called on for duty. He just brought more value on the glass and points per game than Tony. Orlando will definitely feel that sting.
Next let’s take a look at who made a bigger splash in the free agent market. In an effort to replace Matt Barnes, the Magic signed former Miami Heat swingman Quentin Richardson. The jury is still out on whether “Q” will be an upgrade from Barnes. Although he will fit in to Orlando’s 3 point bombing offense quite nicely. Other key signings include: Chris Duhon from the Knicks and matching Chicago’s offer sheet for J.J. Redick. I think Duhon is a very solid signing to back up Jameer Nelson. However I think Orlando overpaid for Redick. The Celtics on the other hand managed to acquire: Von Wafer and Jermaine and Shaquille O’Neal. The platoon of the O’Neals will certainly fill the void left by injured Kendrick Perkins. I think the verdict is out on what Wafer’s role will be.
Reason: Both teams seemingly addressed their immediate needs with the best free agents available.
Now let’s break these two teams down by position. First off let’s start at the Center spot. There is no denying that Dwight Howard is just a beast. He managed to average a double double. Which is just craziness. The only flaws that prevents him from becoming an MVP is his lack of post moves and a medium range shot. In an effort to slow Dwight down, the Celtics will call on the O’Neals. Even though Shaq always finds a way to get Howard in foul trouble, I don’t see the Celtics slowing him down.
Reason: Two old guys will not slow down the force known as Dwight Howard. No matter how hard they try.
Next we have the Power Forward position. We got KG versus Rashard Lewis. This spot is going to be tough to analyze. I would say that these two are so evenly matched. KG brings intensity and leadership. Lewis stretches defenses and can drain the 3. Man this is tough. Just given the ability to produce at both ends of the court makes Garnett my choice
Reason: I love Lewis’ length and 3 pt shot at the PF position. But he is truly playing out of position at the 4. They both average the same points per game, but Garnett has the edge on the boards by 3 more rebounds per game.
At small forward we have a matchup between Paul Pierce and Quentin Richardson/Mickael Pietrus. It really doesn’t matter who the Magic put on Pierce. With no Barnes, Pierce will continue to be a thorn in the proverbial side of the Magic. Hey say what you want about Pierce and his game but the man puts up points and is a clutch player. Q-Rich and Pietrus will have their hands full again this season.
Reason: The Magic have always had their hands full with guarding Pierce. Barnes was the best guy for the job. I don’t think Q-Rich will be able to hang.
At the Shooting Guard spot, we have another even matchup between Vince Carter and Ray Allen. Both certainly bring different talents to the table. Vince brings his ability to slash or take the ol’ step back jumper. Ray-Ray still runs around off screens to show off his pure stroke. However as we saw last season both of these gentleman had their fair share of struggles. Whether it was Vince’s key free throw against the Celtics or Ray not being able to buy a bucket after a sick game 2 in the NBA Finals.
Reason: I know that many people will disagree with me. But I gave the slight edge to Vince. Just because he can create his own shot and still take it to the hole when called upon.
Next we have the ultimate matchup at the Point Guard position. In one corner we have Jameer “Mighty Mouse” Nelson (sorry Damon Stoudamire). And in the other corner, we have Rajon “Grand Theft” Rondo!!! I think everyone can say that last year these two PG’s made a statement last year. Nelson was a nightmare for teams working off the high pick and roll with Dwight. Meanwhile, Rondo was distributing the ball coast to coast like UPS! Jameer is more of your scoring breed of point guard while Rajon is the distributor. It is tough comparing these two starkly different point guards. But if I had to have one of these two pg’s leading my squad, I am going with Rondo.
Reason: Rondo can dish, defend, rebound, and if necessary score. Rajon just brings more problems on both sides of the court.
Ok so we have looked at each position and how they measure up. Let’s talk about their benches. Orlando probably has one of the deepest benches out there. However the only problem with their bench is just not enough minutes in a game to spread around. Two players that didn’t get much playing time were Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson. The Magic will need more production from their bench. However Stan Van Gundy needs to get these guys on the floor. Another thing to consider is who is going to start at the small forward spot? Either way the Magic bench is pretty solid with Q/Pietrus, Duhon, Anderson, Bass, Gortat, and even Redick. It is a coach’s dream to be able to have 6 guys on your bench that can help you out. Now as far as the Celtics are concerned, they have a thin bench. Until Perkins returns from injury, I really see the bench being 3 or 4 guys deep. You have key reserves like Glen Davis, Nate Robinson, Jermaine/Shaq O’Neal (depending on who starts), and maybe newly acquired Von Wafer. Wow just rereading what I typed frightens me. The Celtics have great depth at the PF and C position. But what scares me is the lack of reserves at the PG and SF spot. Yikes!
Reason: 6 deep vs. 4 deep… Hmm sounds like a no brainer to me. All kidding aside, Boston needs one more reserve that can score. Rumors are swirling about Larry Hughes.
Finally we have the battle between coaches. Stan Van Gundy vs. Doc Rivers. You talk about opposite ends of the coaching spectrum. Stan Van is your more animated and vocal coach. While Doc is your cool calm and collected coach. Both coaches have delivered playoff berths on the regular. However the one glaring difference between the two is that Doc has a ring.
Reason: Doc has a ring! Another reason is that he gets his team to buy into his philosophy. That was clearly demonstrated when Doc had the team focus on staying healthy and making the playoffs. Even if the team wanted to win more games during the regular season and lock up a good seed for the playoffs.
Well alright sports fans. Hopefully I have angered you Magic fans. If I have then please feel free to leave your opinions, thoughts, criticisms, etc. as a comment. Now if you are a Celtics fan then this is an open forum to share your thoughts as well. So basically leave some comments!