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What They're Saying Before the Orlando Magic Face Off Against the Cleveland Cavaliers

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  • LeBron James and the Cavs may have the best record, but Magic are still beasts of the East
    Mike Bianchi believes it's not a foregone conclusion that the Cleveland Cavaliers will make it to the NBA Finals after acquiring Antawn Jamison.

    It is amazing, isn't it, how once again the Cavs are supposedly the invincible beasts of the East? Has everybody forgotten that the Magic not only beat the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals last year; they beat them decisively? The Magic won in six, but it could have easily been in five if not for LeBron's fade-away, buzzer-beating, 3-point miracle in Game 2 of the conference finals.

    And has everybody forgotten it's the Cavs who are the ones reacting to the Magic? It's the Cavs who frantically went out over the summer and signed an over-the-hill Shaq because they needed someone to match up with Dwight Howard? It's the Cavs who went out at the trade deadline and dealt for Antawn Jamison because they needed a power forward to guard Rashard Lewis on the perimeter?

    The fact is the Cavaliers are desperate. They're beyond desperate. They are hysterically making any and every move possible so they can to insure they beat the Magic this year, get to the Finals, win a championship and then pray LeBron doesn't bolt for brighter lights and a bigger market.
  • Orlando Magic notebook: Jason Williams wants to play beyond this season . . . preferably in Orlando
    Brian Schmitz reports that Jason Williams wants his Orlando Magic career to extend beyond this season.

    Magic PG Jason Williams will be a free agent at the end of the season, and he says he'd "love to be back" to play for the Magic. He has had a home in Orlando for years.

    But if he can't get what he considers a fair contract with the Magic or another team, Williams, 34, said he also would consider retirement.

    He said he would like an opportunity to get involved in an NBA front office, perhaps in player personnel.

More after the jump.

  • 2. Can Magic Compete With New-Look Cavs?
    Zach McCann of Orlando Magic Daily wonders whether or not the Magic can compete with the Cavaliers in a seven-game series. The verdict? Too early to tell.

    As you lay your head down on your pillow Friday night, say a little thank you to whatever higher power you believe in that the Cavaliers didn't possess enough ammo to trade for Amare Stoudemire. Antawn Jamison makes the Cavaliers better -- there is no doubt about that -- but Stoudemire would have made the Cavaliers downright unstoppable in the East for the next half-decade, provided LeBron sticks around. Could you imagine defending the LeBron/Amare pick-and-roll, with Shaq on a block and two shooters in the corners? Thankfully, that last sentence was purely hypothetical and we only have to deal with reality. [...]

    But is this the move that puts the Cavs a notch above the Magic? Quite possibly. It's also possible the Cavs were a notch above the Magic to begin with. But on paper -- and I'm being brutally, horribly honest here -- I don't know if the Magic can defeat the Cavaliers in a seven-game series with Jamison in the fold. Luckily, that seven-game series won't be for another three months, and a lot can change before then.
  • Terry Pluto's Talkin' ... about Cavaliers' trade strategy, the Browns' special teams guru and the Tribe's slashed payroll
    Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer shares some facts, including this one about the trade that sent lifelong Cavalier Zydrunas Ilgauskas to Washington for Jamison.

    2. The Cavs did not want to put James or [Shaquille] O'Neal in the position where they'd be approving the trading of Ilgauskas. That was purely the decision of the front office. But the Cavs wanted to make sure that O'Neal and James thought Jamison and others would fit into the team on the court along with the culture in the dressing room. It seems everyone in the NBA respects Jamison's game and his professionalism.
  • Admiration for Antawn: Around the NBA, few players are respected more than Jamison, the newest Cavalier
    Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer profiles Jamison.

  • Browns' Rob Ryan has a super time supporting Cavaliers' Shaquille O'Neal against Magic's Dwight Howard
    Bill Livingston of The Plain Dealer writes that Cleveland Browns' defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, a big Cavs fan, supports Shaquille O'Neal against Dwight Howard (whom he refers to as "the kid in Orlando" throughout the article).