OrlandoMagic (36-25) at Boston Celtics (36-26)
Wednesday, April 18
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #63, Home Game #31
TV: ESPN, NBAC, FSFL, CSNNE
Radio: WEEI, WDBO
Referees: James Capers, Derrick Collins, Josh Tiven
This is the 3rd and final game between these two teams. The Celtics lead the series 2-0. Orlando got a big win over the Sixers on Monday and were off on Tuesday. The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games after a tough game vs the Knicks on Tuesday.
The Magic have been hit hard with injuries. Dwight Howard is resting the bulging disc in his back and Hedo Turkoglu is out with a fractured eye socket courtesy of a Carmelo Anthony elbow. Big Baby missed the last game after hyperextending his knee on Sunday. He is listed as questionable for this game but is saying he plans to play.
The Knicks were very physical and the Celtics came away bruised and beaten. Rondo landed hard on his back and that could spell trouble for the Celtics in this game and in the playoffs if he injured his back. Doc should probably sit him for this one. Pierce came up limping several times in the game as well but played through it. Pietrus is expected to miss this game and Ray will be a game time decision.
The Celtics could have clinched the division with a win over New York since the Sixers lost to the Pacers and they will get another chance to clinch the division in this game if they can get a win. The Celtics are now 1/2 game behind both Atlanta and Orlando who are in the 5th and 6th spots. The Celtics need this win and another on Friday if they want home court in the first round against whichever of these teams they face.
With Pierce playing 43 minutes, KG playing 34 minutes and Rondo playing 34 minutes and getting banged up by the physical play of the Knicks, it's hard to say who will play in this game and even harder to say how much they can give.
Probable Starting Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Jameer Nelson
Avery Bradley vs JJ Redick
Paul Pierce vs Jason Richardson
Brandon Bass vs Ryan Anderson
Kevin Garnett vs Glen Davis
Jermaine O'Neal (wrist) out
Pierce (foot) probable
Rondo (back) questionable
Mickael Pietrus (knee) questionable
Ray Allen (ankle) game time decision
Hedo Turkoglu (eye) out
Dwight Howard (back) out
Glen Davis (knee) probable Key Matchups
Brandon Bass vs Ryan Anderson
Anderson has been playing very well and is coming off a 26 point (11-16) 16 rebound effort against the Sixers. He is tough to cover because he is a very good 3 point shooter along with being able to post up. Bass will have his hands full in this game. Hopefully team defense will be able to help out and keep Anderson from having another big game. They especially need to stay with him beyond the arc. We don't want him hitting 19 wide open 3's now, do we?
Rajon Rondo vs Jameer Nelson
It's another game on national TV and that's where Rondo always shines the brightest. However, Rondo came down very hard on his back in Tuesday's game vs the Knicks and may be sore and have limited mobility in this one. Rondo should have a big game vs Nelson but his back may limit him, if he even plays. Whoever guards Nelson needs to keep him off the 3 point line. I don't want a repeat of the 3 point barage that we saw last night.
Kevin Garnett vs Big Baby Davis
Big Baby missed the Magic's last game with a hyperextended knee. He has said there's no way he will miss this game and is expected to start with Howard still out. KG has a size advantage (up and down, of course) on Big Baby and so he should be able to get his shot off over him. They know each others' games very well and that could be a factor also.
Keys to the Game
Play Smart for 48 Minutes - The Celtics must come out strong and play well throughout the game. They can't afford a sluggish start and they can't afford the offensive droughts that they have had in some games this season.
Defense - Defense is the key to winning. Period. The Celtics have shown that they have the capability of shutting down teams in spurts and when they play tough defense, the offense runs more smoothly. But when they falter on defense, it seems as though their game suffers on both ends. The Celtics must defend the perimeter as the Magic have guys that can hit the 3 and they must also defend the paint as they also have guys who can take it to the hoop. The Celtics left the Knicks open on the 3 point line the entire game in NY and they also left the lane open for Tyson Chandler to dunk all night long. They have to do a better job on defense.
Rebound - Rebounding is so important to prevent second chance points and fast breaks. The Celtics have been doing much better on the boards since the All Star break and it takes effort. The Celtics have to make an effort as a team to crash the boards and win the rebounding battle.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics have to be aggressive from start to finish. They have to take the ball to the hoop and not settle for jumpers, especially if the jumpers aren't falling and since they are playing back to back, the jumpers probably won't fall. They also have to be aggressive in going after loose balls and rebounds as well.
The son of former NBA official James Capers Sr., who was a ref for 22 years, James Capers has officiated 969 regular season games and 44 playoff games during his 16-season NBA career. In addition to his NBA experience, Capers
has six years of CBA officiating experience, including three CBA Finals and two CBA All-Star Games. Capers was the recipient of the 1998 Monarch Award as Chicago Sportsman of the Year for his career and community achievements. Capers also conducts NBA Read to Achieve programs at two Chicago Public schools. He has also volunteered to train referees for the Philippines basketball association. I've seen several posts from Lakers fans who swear he hates the Lakers. At least he has that in his favor. The Celtics are 2-0 with Capers this season. In a 100-64 win over the Raptors, the Celtics shot 12 free throws to 18 for the Raptors, but the game was well officiated. The second game was against the Warriors where the Celtics shot 21 free throws to 19 for the Warriors. The Celtics are 6-4 over their last 10 games with Capers. The Magic are 1-1 this season and 9-1 over their last 10 games. His home W/L record this season is 23-19.
Collins has officiated 616 regular season games and 11 playoff games in 10 NBA seasons. Prior to joining the NBA, he officiated five seasons in the CBA and three in the WNBA, where he worked two CBA Finals and three WNBA Playoffs and Finals. He has seven years of collegiate officiating experience in various conferences. Collins also officiated at the high school level in Louisiana. Collins was a member of the Xavier basketball team for four seasons, an honorable mention All-American, and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the university in Mass Communications. Collins was a victim of both Hurricane Katrina and Rita and basically had to start all over in the aftermath. The Celtics are 0-2 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Collins. One loss was in Indiana and the Pacers shot 23 free throws to 18 for the Celtics. The second loss was to the Pistons where the Celtics shot 32 free throws to 29 for the Pistons. The Magic are 2-1 this season and 6-4 in their last 10 games with Collins. His home W/L record this season is 32-16.
Tiven is entering his second NBA season after having officiated 61 games in his first season. He officiated six NBA regular season games in 2009-10 as a non-staff official. Tiven has seven years of NCAA officiating experiencing, as well as two years of WNBA officiating experience and two seasons of WNBA Playoff experience. He also has worked three NBA D-League Finals, as well as the 2007-08 NBA D-League All-Star Game. The Celtics are 1-2 this season and 5-5 over their last 10 games with Tiven. One loss last season was in Houston where Tiven and crew were so bad that they actually caused Tommy to swear on the air over their falling for flops. This season, the Celtics lost to both New Orleans and Dallas, with free throws even at 50 for the Celtics and their combined opponents. In the win, the Celtics shot 17 free throws to 23 for the Blazers. The Magic are 3-2 in their games only games with Tiven over the past 2 seasons. Tiven lives in Connecticut and he has a twin brother who is a big Celtics fan and was shown in the crowd at the Garden in a game he officiated there. His home W/L record this season is 30-14.
Home Court, Fatigue, and Injuries
After being on the road for the past 4 games the Celtics are finally home. They will be tired after a tough game against the Knicks on Tuesday but being home should give them a boost. It's unclear if Rondo will be able to play. Ray's status is also in the air. Pietrus is doubtful and Pierce should probably sit and rest that foot. Big Baby has said that he will play in spite of a knee injury. Howard and Turkoglu will be out. The game may come down to which team can play through the injuries best.