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Celtics look to keep rolling as they host the slumping Orlando Magic

The Celtics host the Orlando Magic looking for their 12th straight win over the shorthanded Magic at TD Garden.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando Magic (18-29) at Boston Celtics (27-18)
Friday, January 27, 2017
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #46, Home Game #23
TV: CSNNE, FSFL, NBA-LP 757(DTV), 754(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, ESPN 580 AM
TD Garden
Referees: Derrick Stafford, Kevin Scott, Aaron Smith

The Celtics host the Orlando Magic for the 2nd of 3 meetings between the Celtics and Magic this season. These two teams were 2-2 last season. The Magic have lost 2 straight and 5 of their last 6 games. They are just 2-8 in their last 10 games. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games and are looking for their second straight win after losing their previous 3. The Celtics are 14-8 at home while the Magic are 10-14 on the road.

The Celtics beat the Magic 117-87 on December 7 for their largest margin of victory this season. The Celtics won on the road, in spite of not having Isaiah Thomas, who was out with a strained groin for that game. The Magic were at full strength with no injuries. Hopefully this won't be another trap game where the Celtics play less than their best because they expect a weakened Magic team to be an easy target.

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. They haven't meshed as well as they had hoped they would in spite of upgrading their roster somewhat.

They have been hit with quite a few injuries this season with several players missing games for various injuries. Jodie Meeks is out with a thumb injury. DJ Augustin and Evan Fournier are both listed as questionable but neither practiced with the team on Thursday. Both were limited participants in Friday's shoot around. CJ Wilcox is listed as out with Achilles tendonitis.

The Celtics will still be without Avery Bradley who is still sitting out with the Achilles injury. Demetrius Jackson is a game time decision with the illness that has been going through the team. At the end of Wednesday's win over the Rockets Al Horford mentioned feeling a possible groin strain but there hasn't been anything more about that so he may be fine.

Brad Stevens shook up the roster and started Jaylen Brown and Jonas Jerebko against the Wizards. That worked out quite well, but since he said that he was changing the starters due to matchups, he may or may not stick with those starters or he may go back to the normal starting lineup with Amir and Marcus.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

Isaiah Thomas vs Elfrid Payton

Shooting Guard
Marcus Smart vs CJ Watson

Small Forward
Jae Crowder vs Aaron Gordon

Power Forward

Al Horford vs Serge Ibaka

Amir Johnson vs Nikola Vucevic

Jaylen Brown
Gerald Green
Terry Rozier
James Young
Jonas Jerebko
Tyler Zeller
Kelly Olynyk
Demetrius Jackson
Jordan Mickey

Avery Bradley (Achilles) out

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Magic Reserves
Jeff Green
Mario Hezonja
Arinze Onuaku
Elfrid Payton
Nikola Vucevic
CJ Watson
Stephen Zimmerman
Bismack Biyombo

Jodie Meeks (thumb) out
CJ Wilcox (Achilles) questionable
DJ Augustin (ankle) questionable
Evan Fournier (foot) questionable

Head Coach

Frank Vogel

Key Matchups

Al Horford vs Serge Ibaka
Ibaka is always a threat to block shots and he is also a good rebounder. He is also a threat from the outside as well as to take the ball into the paint. He is averaging 15.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. Hopefully Al can match up well with him and keep him from having a big game.

Amir Johnson vs Nikola Vucevic
Vucevic gives the Magic length to protect the paint. He is averaging 13.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists. The Celtics need to box him out, to keep him from getting rebounds and second chance baskets.

Honorable Mention
Isaiah Thomas vs Elfrid Payton
Payton is averaging 12.5 points, 6.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals. He is quick and will try to limit Isaiah's looks at the basket.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense wins games pure and simple. Against the Rockets, the Celtics finally showed some of the grit and physical defense that we saw so much last season. Hopefully they keep that mindset and once again play tough team defense. They shouldn't let up on the defense since the Magic aren't a top tier team. They need to play defense just as though the Magic was one of the top teams in the league.

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 averaging 43.1 rebounds per game. The Celtics crashed the boards against the Rockets and 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 Wednesday'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 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.

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.

Home Game - The Celtics are home and should get a boost from the home crowd. They were loud on Wednesday with a playoff type atmosphere and hopefully the crowd brings it again for this game.

Injuries - The Celtics are again without Avery Bradley and that will hurt them but they are learning how to play, and more importantly, how to defend without him. With DJ Augustin and Evan Fornier both questionable for the game, the Magic are without their top 3 point scorers. If either one can play, it would make it easier for the Magic and more difficult for the Celtics to defend them.

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. in Wednesday's game, the Celtics were playing pretty much 5 on 8 with the Rockets getting the benefit of just about every call. They played through it and adjusted to be able to win the game. They have to be able to adjust to however the refs call it.

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