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Celtics Battle Streaking Magic

Boston Celtics (9-3) vs. Orlando Magic (9-3)

Friday, November 20, 2009


TV: Comcast SportsNet; ESPN; Radio: 850 AM WEEI

Venue: TD Garden

The Boston Celtics battle the Orlando Magic in a meeting of Eastern Conference heavyweights tonight at 8:00pm at the TD Garden.

The Celtics snapped a modest two-game losing streak on Wednesday when they outlasted the Golden State Warriors 109-95 behind 18 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds from Rajon Rondo.

The Magic storm into Boston winners of three straight games. However, those three wins came against teams with a combined 9-26 record (New Jersey, Charlotte, Oklahoma City).

Orlando will be without All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on Wednesday to repair torn cartilage in his right knee - an injury he suffered against the Bobcats on Monday. While the Magic will be without Nelson for the next four to six weeks, they welcomed back Rashard Lewis on Monday night who finished up a 10-game suspension after testing positive for an elevated testosterone level over the summer.

This game marks the first time the Celtics will see the new-look Magic, which bade farewell to free agent Hedo Turkoglu over the summer and traded for seven-time All-Star Vince Carter. In addition to Carter, the Magic also re-signed backup center Marcin Gortat and inked forwards Brandon Bass and Matt Barnes as well, which certainly bolstered it's bench behind what is a very potent starting lineup when healthy.

Projected Starters:

Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Magic: Jason Williams, Mickael Pietrus, Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard

Health Check: For the Celtics, Glen Davis (thumb) and Tony Allen (ankle) are out.

For the Magic, Jameer Nelson (knee) and Adonal Foyle (knee) are out, while J.J. Redick (ankle) and Marcin Gortat (illness) are listed as day-to-day.

Keep It In Mind: In all three of the Magic's losses this season, they've been outrebounded by their opponent.

Who's Hot: For the Celtics, Paul Pierce scored 19 points on 7-12 shooting against the Warriors on Wednesday.

For the Magic, Rashard Lewis scored 17 points in his second game back from suspension in a win over the Thunder on Wednesday.

Who's Not: For Boston, Rasheed Wallace shot just 3-8 from the field for eight points against the Warriors on Wednesday in 16 minutes.

For Orlando, Ryan Anderson was just 4-11 from the field against the Thunder on Wednesday.

Key Matchup: Kendrick Perkins vs. Dwight Howard

Honorable Mention: Rajon Rondo vs. Jason Williams and Kevin Garnett vs. Rashard Lewis

Skinny: This game serves as something of a check point for two teams who aim to compete for this season's championship, as both squads have suffered losses this year that have raised eyebrows.

This game features a slew of interesting matchups, starting in the middle, as Kendrick Perkins will certainly have his hands full with All-NBA center Dwight Howard. Perkins of course made headlines in last year's postseason, by playing terrific defense on Howard throughout the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. The rebounding battle will be pivotal between these two, as the Celtics have experienced plenty of woes of their own on the glass this season and the Magic have yet to win a game in which they've been outrebounded by their opponent.

With Jameer Nelson out, it will be interesting to see if Rajon Rondo can exploit his matchup with Jason Williams. An aggressive start from Rondo would be beneficial to the Celtics, as his slicing through the lane could open up space for Perkins to put in easy baskets, or cause the Magic's defense to cave, opening up room on the perimeter for shooters like Ray Allen or Paul Pierce.

Kevin Garnett will have his hands full with the versatile Rashard Lewis who will more than likely pull Garnett out of the paint as far as the three-point line. This matchup could also hurt the Celtics' rebounding numbers, if Garnett is unable to consistently stay in the paint to help pull down Orlando's missed shots.

The second units going head to head tonight could be just as interesting as the starters duking it out, with legitimate players and matchups at almost every position. How will Marquis Daniels fair against Matt Barnes? Who will win the rebounding battle between Shelden Williams and Brandon Bass? Who will cover Ryan Anderson, who's actually turned into a legitimate NBA shooter?

We'll find out at 8:00pm tonight.


Who Will Win Tonight's Game?

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