"A prayer, but no wing," says Kirk Bohls of the Austin (Tex.) American-Statesman. "Orlando's players were probably more shocked Stan Van Gundy still has his job than the fact they beat the Celtics in Boston in Game 7."
Cedric Golden, another Austin sportswriter, disagrees. "If Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis continue to play well, I give the Magic a chance to win this series in seven."
Sounds like their opinions are as far apart as those of your favorite theClevelandFan.com columnists. But, really, who cares what writers (and Charles Barkley) think? We do -- so here's more ...
Greg Cote of the Miami Herald: "I give the Magic against Cleveland a slightly better chance than I give the Nuggets against L.A. -- but only slightly. Both series could be routs; neither will go seven. Orlando and Stan Van Lucky were fortunate to face Boston without Kevin Garnett. I cannot envision any realistic way the NBA and TV won't get their wish for a LeBron James-Kobe Bryant duel in the finals."
Eric Snow, former Cavalier and now an NBA-TV commentator on the Cavaliers, in the New York Times: "Their sense of urgency is high. It shows the maturity of the team. You have a better LeBron James and you have a better Mike Brown. That right there in essence is the main key to their success."
John McMullen of The Sports Network, who gives a lengthy preview of the series: "Orlando's ability to get hot from beyond the arc can make up for a lot of mistakes and figures to get them a game or two. Expect Cleveland to taste defeat for the first time this postseason at some point in this series, but don't expect them to face a stiff challenge throughout. Cavs in 5."
Sir Charles Barkley, on Turner Network Television: "Duh. Er. Ah. Just a minute. Let me put my foot in my mouth. Oh, wait, it's already there. And so is the other one! Where'd that come from, Ernie?"
Connecticut Post: "The Magic have matched up well with the Cavaliers and are confident after outlasting defending champion Boston in seven games. Prediction: Cavaliers in 6."
Pat Clarke, sports director of WESH-TV, Orlando: "Orlando is commanding respect that it still isn't getting, and that may be bad news for any foe right now. Cleveland had better watch out. A few weeks from now, it might just resemble what's left of Red Auerbach's cigar: smoke and ashes. For what it's worth, that's my two cents."
Kelly Dwyer, writing for Yahoo Sports Canada: "Will Cleveland's offense remind us of that old Cleveland offense? The one you hated to watch? The one that took 14 seconds to set up a bad play featuring a low percentage shot as its go-to move? The one that made you wonder if Mike Brown was long for the head coaching chair? There have been signs during the playoffs that this sort of offense might return, and Cleveland's last game in Orlando certainly reminded us of the Cavs of old, so this is worth paying attention to."
Rod Thorn (no sportswriter, but he'd probably make a better sportswriter than he does a franchise president) of the New Jersey Nets, in the Portland Oregonian: "I think Cleveland is gonna be tested for the first time in these playoffs. I do expect Cleveland to prevail, but I don't think it will be four games in a row."
And finally, from Brian Schmitz, "Mr. Master of the Obvious" of the Orlando Sentinel: "And now the Magic are halfway home to a championship." Sorta like the Cavs and the Lakers and the Nuggets, right Brian?
Sportswriters ... can't live with ‘em, can't live without ‘em.