he Celtics continue their road trip with a stop in Orlando to take on the Magic. The Celtics are playing in the first of back to back games and will complete the road trip on Monday in Atlanta. This is the first of 4 games between these two teams this season. They will meet in Boston on November 24 and January 21 and again in Orlando on March 16. The Celtics swept the series 3-0 last season.
The Magic have been a surprise so far this season with a record of 6-3. They have been a little inconsistent, however. They have beaten the Grizzlies, Pelicans, Cavaliers, Nets, Spurs, and Heat. They have lost to the Bulls, Hornets and Nets. It's hard to say whether we will see the team that beat the Spurs and Cavs or the team that lost to the Nets and Bulls.
The Celtics got a boost in their game against the Thunder when Marcus Morris returned from the knee injury. He found ways to contribute immediately. Gordon Hayward is the only Celtic on the injured list. Daniel Theis had his shoulder wrapped with ice after Friday's game but I haven't seen anything that would indicate that he is going to be out for this game.
The Magic are without DJ Augustin, who has a mild to moderate hamstring sprain. The Magic's starting PG, Elfrid Payton, has missed the last 7 games but put in a full practice on Saturday. He may return for this game and may or may not return to the starting lineup since he still needs to improve conditioning. He is listed as a game time decision. Adreian Payne, who is a two way player, suffered a fractured hand in practice on Wednesday and is out.
The Celtics have used 4 different starting lineups in the first 9 games and they will start a 5th lineup today. Marcus Morris returned against the Thunder and will start at small forward today and Jayson Tatum will move to power forward. Morris won’t play Monday against Atlanta, according to Brad Stevens. The Hawks have also made a change in their lineup to start Jonathon Simmons in place of Shelvin Mack.
Probable Celtics Starters
Gordon Hayward (ankle) out
Two Way Players
Probable Magic Starters
Two Way Players
DJ Augustin (hamstring) game time decision
Elfrid Payton (hamstring) game time decision
Jayson Tatum vs Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon is one of the reasons for the Magic's success this season. He is averaging 19.3 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.0 steals per game. With Al Horford moving to center, it will be up to the Celtics rookie to try to slow him down.
Marcus Morris vs Evan Fournier
Fournier has had some big games against the Celtics over the past few years. He is playing very well this season, averaging 21.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.3 steals. With Marcus Morris moving to the starting lineup, Fournier will need to work for his points in this game.
Al Horford vs Nikola Vucevic
Vucevic is off to a strong start this season with 18.4 points, 7.7 rebounds 2.8 assists and 1.1 blocks. Hopefully, Al will be able to slow him down in this game.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense wins games, pure and simple. The Magic have a strong defense and are averaging 111.3 points per game, which is good for 5th in the league. Boston is averaging just 102.9 points per game. Orlando isn't a bad defensive team, ranking 9th with a defensive rating of 100.9. If they want to get a win in this game, they need to play tough defense for 48 minutes. The Celtics have to defend the paint as they have players who can drive to the hoop and they also have to defend the perimeter as the Magic are 3rd in the league with 12.4 three pointers made per game.
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 18th in the league averaging 43.1 rebounds per game. The Celtics are 5th with 47.3 rebounds per game. They need to continue to put out extra effort as a team to crash 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.
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.
Bench Play - The Celtics have to use their depth to make a run when the Magic rest their starters. The Magic's reserves are averaging 41.2 points per game while the Celtics' reserves are averaging 50.2 points per game. The Magic get 15.8 points from Jonathon Simmons off the bench and the Celtics will need to slow him down in particular.
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. Young players especially have to maintain their focus to avoid the pitfalls of road games.
Let Down - The Celtics are coming off of a big win over one of the top teams in the Western Conference. It might be natural for them to let down their guard for this game. The Magic have been winning games and so the Celtics can't afford to let down their guard against them. They need to come into this game with the mindset that they will put them away early and then keep them there.