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Celtics and Magic Face Off in Statement Game

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Boston Celtics (34-9) at Orlando Magic (33-8)
Thursday, January 22
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #45, Road Game #23
TV: TNT
Radio: WEEI
Amway Arena


Game Thread l
Chat

Magic Blogs Third Quarter Collapse l Believing in Magic

The Magic are on the top of most power rankings this week after a successful 4-0 trip through the West. They have won 7 games in a row and 9 of their last 10. The Celtics seem to be back on track after their disastrous trip out West but this will be the biggest test for them so far. The Magic are 16-3 at home while the Celtics are 15-7 on the road.

The Celtics are playing in their 3rd game in 4 nights while the Magic have been off since Saturday. The Magic are a tough home team, having won 11 in a row at Amway Arena. The Celtics are riding a 6 game win streak and the Magic have won 7 in a row and 9 of their last 10.

Orlando is a tough team to guard in that they are tough inside with Dwight Howard and are also shooting .403 from beyond the arc as a team. They are also a tough defensive team, allowing just 91.5 ppg over their last 18 games. They are also first in the league in defensive rebounding.

The Celtics haven't faired well in games against the other top teams so far, having lost to both the Lakers and the Cavs in their last meetings. The Celtics appear to be back on track now and hopefully will bring their defense with them to this game. It is good that Perk was able to play against the Heat as he will have worked some of the rust off and will be ready to face Dwight Howard in this one.

Both teams will be looking to make a statement in this game. The Celtics can take over the top spot in the league with a win in this game or they can fall a game and a half behind the Magic with a loss. Hopefully the Celtics will continue their hot play and show the Magic why they are the Champs!

Probable Starting Matchups
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Rajon Rondo vs Jameer Nelson

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Ray Allen vs Courtney Lee

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Paul Pierce vs Hedo Turkoglu

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Kevin Garnett vs Rashard Lewis

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Kendrick Perkins vs Dwight Howard


Reserves
Glen Davis
Eddie House
Leon Powe
Gabe Pruitt
Bill Walker
Sam Cassell
Patrick O'Bryant
Brian Scalabrine

Injuries
Tony Allen (ankle) out
Kendrick Perkins (shoulder) will play
JR Giddens (wrist) day to day

Reserves
Brian Cook
Courtney Lee
Tony Battie
Marcin Gortat
Adonal Foyle
Jeremy Richardson
Keith Bogans
Anthony Johnson
JJ Redick


Injuries
Mickael Pietrus (wrist) out
Mike Wilkes (acl) out

Key Matchups
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Rajon Rondo vs Jameer Nelson
In their first matchup, the Nelson was out with an injury. Rondo has been left out of most discussions for the All Star game while Nelson has been touted as a worthy candidate for his first selection. We have seen many times that when Rondo is on his game and playing aggressively, the Celtics are very tough to beat. Nelson has also been setting the stage for the Magic's stellar play of late. Both are very quick point guards and it will be off to the races when they face each other.

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Kendrick Perkins vs Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard is the heart of the Magic's offense and defense. When he is on his game, it is impossible to stop him. Hopefully Perk is healthy enough to slow him down, though. Perk played his first game after missing 5 in a row against the Heat and hopefully that allowed him to shake off some of the rust as the Celtics will need him inside against a very powerful Dwight Howard.

HonorableMention
Paul Pierce vs Hedo Turkoglu
Turkoglu always seems to have a big game against the Celtics. Who can forget his game winning shot vs the Celtics last season? Pierce has been playing very well of late. This should be a good matchup and defense will decide who gets the better of it.

Connections
Doc Rivers coached the Magic from 1999-2004
Tony Battie played for the Celtics from 1999-2004
Mickael Pietrus, Adonal Foyle, and Patrick O'Bryant were teammates in Golden State
Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis were teammates in Seattle
Keith Bogans and Rajon Rondo are former Kentucky Wildcats
Keith Bogans and Eddie House were teammates in Charlotte
Anthony Johnson and Scal were teammates in New Jersey
Anthony Johnson played for Doc in Orlando
Clifford Ray was an assistant for the Magic and mentored Dwight Howard in his first years in the league.

Keys to the Game
Focus: The Celtics are on the road and playing in the second of back to back games against a well rested Magic team. At times, the Celtics seem to lose focus on both ends of the court when they leave the friendly confines of the Garden. They need to keep their focus and play their game and not let being on the road keep them from being aggressive and playing their tough team defense.

Defense The Celtics are capable of lock down defense when they choose to play it. We see it most of the time in the Garden but for some reason, they forget to bring it on the road. They need to play that same tough defense that gave them blowouts in their last 2 games. The Magic are tough inside and they are also a very good 3 point shooting team and lead the league with a .403 percentage from beyond the arc. The Celtics need tough defense both in the paint and especially on the perimeter.

Play 48 Minutes
The Celtics need to come out strong as if they are playing the world champions as it is certain that the Magic will do so. They also need to keep up the pressure on the Magic for all 48 minutes of the game and not let up because if they get down, it will be very hard to come back against this tough Magic team.

Take Care of the Ball
The Magic are a good fast break team and if the Celtics get sloppy with the ball, the Magic will make them pay with points off turnovers.

X-Factor
Rust vs Rest
The Magic are going to be well rested as they haven't played since Saturday when they completed their 4 game road trip where they went 4-0 against the Lakers, Nuggets, Kings, and Spurs. Sometimes a 4 day layoff can work against a team as they come out rusty rather than rested. On the other hand, the Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games and fatigue could be a problem.