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Eastern Conference Preview, Part 2

   by Matt Fargo - 04/17/2008

Eastern Conference Preview – Part 2

Toronto Raptors vs. Orlando Magic

Orlando could be considered the Toronto of last season as it kind of came out of nowhere to wins its division. We know the Magic were going to be improved with the addition of Rashard Lewis but we weren’t sure how much. They started out very strong, winning 16 of their first 20 games before coming back down to earth for a while. However, Orlando went 28-13 over the second half of is season so it enters the postseason with some excellent momentum and confidence.

Toronto comes into the postseason six games worse than last season but could be better off this time around. The Raptors admitted the heightened pressure of the playoffs caught them off guard after last season's six-game loss to New Jersey. While the playoff experience is a big plus, motivation heading into this weekend is not. Toronto had a dismal finish to the season, going 9-17 in March and April and the Raptors never really had any head of steam as they never had a winning streak of more than four games.

The playoff experience from last season also helps the Magic as they got their taste last season, getting swept by Detroit in the first round. There is no way the Magic get swept this season and they are likely going to have a rematch with Detroit should they get past Toronto. Knowing the Pistons are on deck should provide even extra motivation. Chris Bosh averaged 33 ppg in the two meetings he played in while Dwight Howard averaged 24.3 ppg and 12.7 rpg in the three meetings so this matchup will be special.

Orlando was the 2nd best team in the NBA against the number this season, going a profit earning 50-29-3. The Magic come in on a three-game ATS run while the Raptors come in on a three-game ATS skid. Orlando covered two of the three meetings this season which snapped a seven-game Toronto ATS streak. A key factor is that the first five games are every other day. The Raptors went 13-22 ATS when playing with a day of rest against an opponent with a day of rest while Orlando went 17-10 ATS in the same scenario.

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