With the first round of the Eastern Conference finally completed, here is a look at the second round of the 2010 playoffs.
Celtics vs. Cavaliers:
The Cavaliers are sporting the league’s best record for the second year in a row and they easily defeated the Chicago Bulls in five games to advance to the second round of the 2010 playoffs. The Celtics dipped a little bit this season finishing with the fourth best record in the East but made quick work of the Miami Heat in five games and the defense seems to be returning to form. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs was two years ago in the Conference Semifinals. The series went the full seven games with each team winning on their home court. This time around the roles are a bit different. Cleveland is the team with home-court advantage this time around and is much deeper than they were two years ago. The additions of Shaquille O’Neal and Antwan Jamison gives LeBron James plenty of options to defer to on the offensive side of the floor. The Celtics scoring trio of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are as big of an offensive threat as there is in the league today. Even though the Celtics were able to move past Miami Heat fairly easily, they are not the same team defensively as they were during their run to the championship in 2008 and the Cavaliers will prove to be a much tougher opponent in the second round. It will be a good series but look for the Cavaliers to win out in six or maybe seven games and make a return trip back to the Conference Finals to finish what they started last year.
Hawks vs. Magic:
The Orlando Magic swept away the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round of the playoffs while the Atlanta Hawks actually needed seven games to outlast the Milwaukee Bucks; who were missing Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut. Dwight Howard will be a force on both ends of the floor if he can stay out of foul trouble as the Hawks don’t have the size to match up with Howard in the paint. Another area that favors Orlando is the three point shooting. The Magic have several players that can knock down the deep ball including JJ Reddick, Michael Pietrus and Jameer Nelson. If the Magic are able to work their offense through Howard, they will create open shots for these perimeter shooters. The Atlanta Hawks have an inside game of their own with Al Hortford, and Josh Smith while guards Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson provide scoring punch from the outside. While the Hawks are a formidable opponent, the Orlando Magic will win out in this series and will return to the Conference Finals for a rematch with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
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