Dwight HowardImage: Source

I guess the Orlando Magic aren’t watching all the commercials and the general vibe that seems to have already put Kobe vs Lerbon in the finals. From the looks of things right now, Dwight Howard and the Magic are closer to the Finals than Lebron and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Orlando won 99-89 in a gritty, physical game and now have a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. Lebron James scored 41 points, but all hard. The Cavs offense has regressed to it’s old Lebron vs five while the others spread out and watch. It’s good here and there, but even King James can’t do it play after play after play.

Orlando blocked out the middle and forced Cleveland into bad shots all night, most evidently in the closing minutes of the game as the Cavs got to withing four points but couldn’t tie the game shooting bad shots, missing them all. They shot 37.2% from the field, including 5 for 26 from three, 19.2%. When you miss that much, why keep shooting?

Orlando had Dwight Howard lead the way, with 24 points and 9 rebounds, including a 14-19 night from the line, very impressive for this big guy. Rafer Alston stepped up with 18 points while Mikael Pietrus came up from the bench and added 16, continuing on his impressive post season play. Rashard Lewis with 15 and Hedo Turkoglu, with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists chipped in as well.

The Cavs? Lebron had the 41-7-9 stat line but that was pretty much it. The bench is struggling against the Magic, this time producing only 8 points. Mo Williams got 15, but that was pretty much it. Varejao and Big Z are forced out to the perimeter by Howard and aren’t making shots, inside or outside. Orlando’s defense is killing the Cavaliers passing game that seemed to be flowing in the first two rounds.

Orlando have to be happy with the way things are right now. Cleveland can’t get easy shots, settling for tough ones from the outside. They’re limiting Lebron’s points from inside and the Cleveland fast breaks. If the Cavs can’t find a way to start scoring from the paint and stop shooting three after three, Orlando will finish this series before a game 7.