Earlier today the inevitable was announced. Dwight Howard was officially suspended for game six. Easy win right? Wrong.
The Magic can, and will win tomorrow if the Sixers take them for granted. The Sixers are a young and inexperienced team. This season alone they've already been embarrassed by the Thunder without Kevin Durant, and needed overtime to beat the Cavs without LeBron. There is no reason the Magic cannot do the same without Howard.
The Magic still have Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis. In fact, the Magic have already won two road games without Dwight this season -- at Utah and at Golden State. Game six is still a playoff game and the Sixers need to act accordingly. It's obvious that the Magic are going to play the "Let's win this one for Dwight!" card, so the Sixers better match their intensity, otherwise they'll get blown out of the gym.
Seated next to Superman on the bench will be Super-rookie Courtney Lee. Ironically Lee is also sitting out because of Dwight's famous elbow. Howard's 'bow inadvertently caught Lee in the face subsequently fractured his sinus. Ouch.
Orlando is likely to roll out a starting lineup of:
PG - Alston
SG - Pietrus
If the Sixers play like they have for the first five games of this series, they will beat the Lee and Howard-less Magic. That said, the fact that the game -- and the season -- depends on a young Sixers team to come out and play with the same intensity they would have had Dwight been playing, has me extremely frightened. It's human nature to let up when your opponent is weakened. Only the great ones overcome it.
Tony Kornheiser brought up an interesting point on PTI. He said the Sixers should be upset that Howard was not tossed from game five. Him and Wilbon both agree, if Howard was tossed in game five, the Magic would have lost and headed back to Philadelphia down 3-2. A home game up 3-2 is obviously much easier to win than game seven on the road, which will be the scenario if the Sixers win game six. My response: I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear that we were robbed. I don't want to hear excuses. Should Dwight have been tossed at the time of the incident? Yes. Would it have been more beneficial for the Sixers? Yes. However; that's not the way the cookie crumbled. The NBA did their best to rectify the situation by suspending Howard. They did the right thing and I'm not going to blame them for it. I hate "coulda, shoulda woulda" statements. Everyone got what they wanted -- a Howard suspension -- now it's time to man up and win two games.