Perhaps this will change as gametime gets closer, but is it just me or is there a lot less hype for this game than we would have anticipated coming into the season? If you had asked me then how many losses these teams would have after a dozen games and I would have probably guessed 3 total, not 3 each.
The Magic dropped some early games to the Pistons and Thunder and more recently to the Cavs, but they've been feasting on the bottom of the league in their last three wins, including a revenge win over Oklahoma City. For their part, the Celtics have been struggling ever since that TWolves game and have been only .500 in the last 6 games. Will this be a clash of the titans or a battle of who could care less?
Personally I'm hoping for the Celtics to use this game to shake them out of the doldrums. Some players indicated that they've been taking teams too lightly recently. That shouldn't be the case playing against the team that bounced us out of the playoffs last year.
As usual, all eyes will be on the center matchup where Perkins has more than held his own against Dwight. Now we'll see first hand how well Vince Carter is taking over for the departed Hedo. Nameer Nelson is hurt again, so I would hope that Rondo can take advantage of the Jason Williams matchup. Both teams also boast newly improved, deeper benches.
So this should be a good early-season litmus test of sorts for both teams. The cast of characters has changed somewhat (KG and VC in, Hedo and Baby out) but both teams will want to assert themselves as the class of the East and get a leg up on homecourt advantage.
The Celtics have had a day or so of rest, a mostly healthy roster, and clear motivation. In other words, no excuses. If they win, great, we're back on track (for now). If they lose, then there are some issues that the team will have to look long and hard at.