The Celtics finish up their 3 game home stand before heading out west as they host the Orlando Magic. This is the third of 4 games between these two teams this season. The Celtics won 104-88 on November 5 and they won the second meeting 118-103 on November 24. They will meet again in Orlando on March 16 for the 4th and final game.
The Magic have lost their last 6 games and 17 of their last 18 at the TD Garden. The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games and are looking to avoid losing 3 straight at home. The Magic are 2-8 in their last 10 and have a win over the Timberwolves sandwiched between narrow losses to the Wizards and the Cavaliers. The Celtics are 18-7 at home while the Magic are 5-20 on the road.
Arron Afflalo will miss the game due to a suspension for throwing a punch in the win over the Timberwolves. Jonathan Isaac (ankle), Nikola Vucevic (hand) and Terrence Ross (knee) are all out for the Magic.
Kyrie Irving missed the game against the 76ers with a sore shoulder, but he was able to go for the full practice on Saturday and is expected to play in this game. Aron Baynes missed Saturday’s practice with the flu that has been going through the team and will be a game time decision for this game. If he can play, I expect him to get the start against Biyombo.
Guerschon Yabusele and Abdel Nader were assigned to the Red Claws for Saturday’s game. They may or may not return to the Celtics in time for this game. The Celtics also signed Jarell Eddie out of the G-League to a 10 day contract. He practiced with the team on Saturday and will be with the team for this game.
Probable Celtics Starters
Gordon Hayward (ankle) out
Kyrie Irving (shoulder)
Aron Baynes (illness) game time decision
Guerschon Yabusele (G-League) day to day
Abdel Nader (G-League) day to day
Two Way Players
Probable Magic Starters
Two Way Players
Jonathan Isaac (ankle) out
Arron Afflalo (suspended) out
Nikola Vucevic (hand) out
Terrence Ross (knee) out
Al Horford vs Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon is a bright spot for the Magic this season. He is averaging 18.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. Al Horford has been one of the Celtics top defenders this season and he will need to continue to play tough defense to slow Gordon down.
Jaylen Brown 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 18.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.9 assists. Fournier is coming off a 32 point game in the Magic’s win over the Wolves. Jaylen will need to keep him from scoring at will in this game.
Jayson Tatum vs Jonathon Simmons
Simmons was the high scorer for the Magic in their last game against the Celtics. He is averaging 13.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. Jayson needs to bounce back from a sub-par game against the Sixers to have a good game in this one.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense wins games, pure and simple. The Magic have a strong offense and are averaging 105.2 points per game, which is good for 17th in the league. Boston is averaging just 102.7 points per game (23rd). Orlando ranks 27th with a defensive rating of 108.7. The Celtics are still tops in the league with a defensive rating of 99.5. They must play tough defense if they want to get back to winning.
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 22nd in the league averaging 41.9 rebounds per game. The Celtics are 12th with 44.4 rebounds per game. Much of rebounding is effort and the Celtics need to give extra effort 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. When they allow other teams to work harder than them, it doesn’t usually end well.
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 ball kept stopping against both the Pelicans and the 76ers and if the Celtics want to get back to winning they have to get back to moving the 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. Letting teams build big leads and then having to climb out of big holes is not a good way to win games and neither is building a big lead themselves and then letting their opponents come back.
Home Game and Celtic Pride - The Celtics are finishing up a 3 game home stand. They are coming off 2 home losses to two teams they should have beaten. They need to get a boost from the home crowd and they need to dig deep for their Celtic pride to finish this home stand off with a win before heading West for a 4 game road trip.
Matinee Game - So far this season, the Celtics are 3-0 in games played in the afternoon. The stats show that teams don’t play as well in the afternoon as they do in night games. Pace is -2.08, offensive efficiency is -1.78 and defensive efficiency is -2.04 in day games as opposed to night games. Hopefully the Celtics come in focused and get their rest so they can play well in this early game.