Don't forget to check out the Magic's ten keys to a series victory vs. the Celtics. - ER
I planned on having another 3QC roundtable discussion for today but was unable to, due to time constraints. Instead, I enlisted the thoughts of Jon Nichols of Basketball-Statistics. If you've been a reader of the site for a bit, you'll recognize the name. Nichols was kind enough to provide his thoughts on the upcoming series between the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics. Here's what he had to say:
UPDATE: [ed. note: I've been able to gather the thoughts of Sandy Weil, a noted APBRmetrician. Weil is most known for collaborating an effort with John Huizinga, in which both analyzed at the 2009 Sloan Conference the 'Hot Hand In The NBA'. I highly suggest checking out the study. I'll append his thoughts into the discussion.]
With the Orlando Magic dispensing the Philadelphia 76ers in six games, Orlando will now face off against the Boston Celtics. How do you see the Magic stacking up against the Celtics?
Jon Nichols: The last time we did the roundtable discussion I said the Magic would lose to the Celtics. That was right before the news came out that KG would miss the playoffs, and obviously my opinion has changed since then. The Magic should be able to handle [the Boston Celtics] with ease, although I'm not sure who they could use to stop Paul Pierce. [With] the Celtics, I expect Rashard Lewis to have a great series. Either way, expect a Cavs-Magic matchup in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Sandy Weil: The Magic matched up pretty well in the last two regular season games against the Celtics, so I think that they will do pretty well. I'm picking the Magic to win in 6 games.
How much do you believe the fatigue factor for Boston will benefit Orlando? Do you think it'll play a big role in the matchup?
JN: I normally don't buy into such things, but I think fatigue will play a pretty large role. The [Boston Celtics] may come out strong in Game 1, but by the time Games 4 and 5 come around it may get to be too much. Remember, it's not just a seven game series that's going on. It's a seven game series that's been tightly contested in every game but one and has featured plenty of overtimes. The Magic don't need the rest advantage, but it can't hurt.
SW: I don't think that it will play a big role, but it could have some role. The Celtics just finished effectively an eight-game series against the Bulls. The Magic/76er's series was not nearly as strenuous or mentally fatiguing. Given those, I expect that the Magic will be fresher for games one and two than will be the Celtics. Those will be good opportunities for the Magic to wrest home-court advantage. If they can do that by winning one of the first two, the Magic should be in pretty good shape.
Right now, the word coming out of Orlando is that Courtney Lee will most likely miss some time before he is able to play in the second round. What impact will his absence have on the team and how can the Magic effectively compensate his production on both ends of the court?
JN: His loss would be a factor because the Celtics do most of their scoring from the wings, so the Magic will need all the help they can get. I don't think Lee could handle Pierce anyways, but he'd be useful for chasing Ray Allen for 30 minutes a night. The quicker the Magic can get him back, the better. To make up for his loss, I'd expect a lot of Mickael Pietrus. It may sound crazy but I'd consider giving him almost 40 minutes a night because you need all the perimeter D you can get against Boston. Whoever takes the responsibility, I imagine the gameplan will be quite simple: crowd the shooters and funnel them inside to Dwight Howard.
SW: Looking that the two Magic victories in March against the Celtics, Lee does not appear to have been a huge contributing factor to those victories. I suspect that he'll miss a few games of the series, but that the Magic will be up in the series by the time he returns. I think he'll be able to contribute but that the Magic will be able to adjust to his absence.
I like to thank Jon and Sandy for taking the time to answer my questions. In case you're interested in reading up on additional analysis for the 2009 NBA Draft, I highly suggest reading Nichols' player projections for individuals entering the draft.