Boston Celtics (12-9) at Orlando Magic (10-12)
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #22, Road Game #13
TV: CSNNE, FSFL, NBA-LP 752(DTV), 752(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, ESPN 580 AM
Referees: Kane Fitzgerald, Brent Barnaky, Curtis Blair
The Celtics finish their 3 game road trip with a stop in Orlando for the first of 3 meetings between the Celtics and Magic this season. These two teams were 2-2 last season. The Magic are playing on the second night of back to back games, having beat the Wizards at home on Tuesday. The Magic are 1-2 in the second of back to back games so far this season.
The Magic feature 7 new players this season including former Celtic Jeff Green, DJ Augustin, Bismack Biyombo, Serge Ibaka, Jodie Meeks, CJ Wilcox, and Stephen Zimmerman. They also have a new head coach as well with former Pacers coach Frank Vogel joining the team this season.
The Magic have no injuries reported in their game notes. Isaiah Thomas came up limping a couple times on Monday night against the Rockets but played through it. He is out for this game and possibly Friday's game as well. Marcus Smart practiced with the starters and is expected to move into the starting lineup in Isaiah's place. Demetrius Jackson, who is averaging 19.6 points per game on 49.6% shooting has been recalled from the Red Claws. James Young missed Monday's game with an illness and is a game time decision for this game.
For Monday's game, Brad Stevens shook up the starting lineup by moving Jonas Jerebko to the starting lineup and moved Amir Johnson to the bench. He stated that he did specifically to match up with the Magic. I'm going to guess that he goes back to Amir starting in this game to match up with Bismack Biyombo.
Probable Starting Matchups
Marcus Smart vs DJ Augustin
Avery Bradley vs Evan Fournier
Jae Crowder vs Aaron Gordon
Al Horford vs Serge Ibaka
Amir Johnson vs Bismack Biyombo
Isaiah Thomas (groin) out
James Young (illness) game time decision
Al Horford vs Serge Ibaka
Ibaka is always a threat to block shots and he is also a good rebounder. He is always a threat from the outside as well as to take the ball into the paint. He is averaging 14.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.81 blocks. Hopefully Al can match up well with him and keep him from having a big game.
Avery Bradley vs Evan Fournier
Fournier is averaging 17.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.19 steals a game. Fournier has had big games against the Celtics in the past and Avery's defense will be needed in this game to slow him down and keep him from having another big game against the Celtics.
The Magic have a good bench including former Celtic Jeff Green, and former starters Elfrid Payton and Nikola Vucevic. In Tuesday's game vs the Wizards, it was the Magic bench that came up big for them. Payton had 25 points and 9 assists, Green had 20 points, Meeks had 18 points, and Vucecik finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Celtics reserves have to come out and play well and not allow the Magic to build a lead while the starters are getting a rest.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense wins games pure and simple. The Magic are averaging 93.2 points per game but they have players who, if allowed to get hot, can put up a lot of points. Orlando is 3rd in the league allowing just 97.1 points per game. Over their last 13 games, they have been holding teams to 91.7 points per game and so the Celtics have to play tough team defense if they want to get a win in this one because the Magic will be playing tough defense.
Rebound - The Celtics have to crash the boards in order to give themselves extra possessions as well as to prevent the Magic from getting second chance points and fast breaks. The Magic are 10th in the league averaging 44.6 rebounds per game. The Celtics will need to work hard to beat the Magic to the boards.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics need to be the more aggressive team. They must be the first to loose balls and rebounds, and they have to be aggressive in driving to the basket and not always settling for jumpers. They must be aggressive on defense and set the tone for the game. They have to play like they want it more. We saw some of this aggressiveness in Monday's game and they need to keep that up in this game.
Move the Ball Carefully - The Celtics have to move the ball and find the open man. But in moving the ball, they have to make careful passes and not get sloppy. The Magic average will make the Celtics pay if they don't take care of the ball. The Celtics play much better when they keep the ball moving and don't play hero ball.
Set the Pace - The Celtics play best when they run on every possession and move the ball quickly. When they walk the ball up and over dribble, they struggle to hit shots. They need to run on every possession and get easy shots before the Magic can set up their defense. They also need to run on defense to keep the Magic from getting easy shots. The Celtics benefit from forcing a quicker pace, especially since the Magic are playing back to back games.
Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics have to get off to a good start and build a lead and then not let up until the final buzzer. They have to be ready for every Magic run and meet it with defense and then make their own runs. They have to play from opening tip till final buzzer with no let up.
Fatigue - The Celtics are playing in the final game of a 3 game road trip. The Magic are playing on the second night of back to back games at home. Both of these situations could mean a tired team. The deeper team and the team that can fight fatigue better will get the win.
Focus On the Road - The Celtics are on the road and they have to focus on the game at hand and not the hostile crowd or the other distractions that a team faces when on the road. They need to be able to block all that out and focus on playing basketball.
Officiating Factor - Officiating will be an X-Factor for every game. Every crew has their own way of calling the games and they have their own agendas. Will they call it fairly or in favor of one team or the other? Will they let them play or call every little minor contact? The way the game is called always has an effect on the players and the way they play.