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C's Look to Keep Rolling as Magic Come to Town

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Orlando Magic (45-16) at Boston Celtics (49-14)
Sunday, March 8
1:00 PM ET
Game # 64, Home Game #32
TD Banknorth Garden

Game Thread l Chat

Update: Rajon is out with a sprained ankle and may miss more than just this game. Stephon is starting in his place. This should be interesting.

The Celtics are coming off a win over their closest rival for home court advantage and now face the team that are right behind them in the standings as the Orlando Magic come to town. The Celtics are up 2-0 in the series, having beaten them once at the Garden and once in Orlando already this season.

The Magic had lost Jameer Nelson and now have replaced him in the starting lineup with Rafer Alston who presents his own challenges for Rajon Rondo who will once again be front and center in the key matchups in this game.

The Magic are 21-9 on the road and the Celtics are 26-5 at home. The Magic slipped somewhat when Nelson went down but have come on strong once again after bringing in Alston. Both teams are coming off a win with the Magic narrowly beating the Nets on Friday and the Celtics getting a huge win over the Cavs.

The Celtics bigs dominated the game inside vs the Cavs, but with Dwight Howard in the middle for the Magic, it won't be near as easy to get to the basket in this game. If the Celtics play with the same intensity they showed against the Cavs, they should be able to get a win in this game. But, the biggest challenge in this game is for the Celtics to avoid a letdown after their win against the Cavs. With the Cavs bouncing back to beat Miami last night, the Celtics need to win this game to keep pace.

Probable Starting Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Rafer Alston

Ray Allen vs Courtney Lee

Paul Pierce vs Hedo Turkoglu

Glen Davis vs Rashard Lewis (If Big Baby isn't suspended)

Kendrick Perkins vs Dwight Howard

Tony Allen (thumb) out
Kevin Garnett (knee) out
Brian Scalabrine (head) out
Rajon Rondo (ankle) probable

Jameer Nelson (labrum) out

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Rafer Alston
This will be Rondo's first matchup vs Alston as the Magic point guard. Alston is a good ball handler and a good defender. Rondo has an advantage with his speed and will need to use it to get the better of this matchup.

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. Perk has been playing great defense and the Celtics will need him to try to stop Howard with single coverage so that they don't open up the Magic's deadly outside shooters.

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? In their win over the Nets on Friday, Turkoglu hit two big shots down the stretch to give the Magic the win. He is their clutch shooter down the stretch and Pierce's defense is going to be tested in trying to stop him from taking over if it is a close game.

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 coming off a huge win against the Cavs and they must keep their focus on winning and not have a let down vs the Magic who are just as much in the hunt for home court advantage as the Celtics and Cavs.

Defense The Celtics are capable of lock down defense when they choose to play it as we saw from the Cavs game. There have been times this season when they have forgotten to bring it. The Magic are tough inside and they are also a very good 3 point shooting team. The Celtics need tough defense both in the paint and on the perimeter. It will once again fall on the Celtics bigs to shut down the paint.

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. The Celtics have turned the ball over way too much this season but had just 8 turnovers vs the Cavs. Let's hope this trend continues because it will be a big key to winning.

Let Down Game
After a huge game against the Cavs, it would be easy to have a let down in the next game. But, this game is right up there in importance with the Cavs game. The Magic are right on the Celtics' heels for home court advantage and are playing good basketball since they replaced the injured Nelson with Alston. The Celtics can't afford a let down in any games or the Cavs can surge ahead of the Celtics again and so they need to bring it vs the Magic just as they did vs the Cavs.