The Celtics continue on their trip through the state of Florida with a stop in Orlando to take on the Magic. This is the second of three meetings this season between these two teams. The Magic beat the Celtics 93-90 on October 22 in Boston. They will play one more time in Boston on April 7.
The Magic are 48-64 all time vs the Celtics. They are 34-21 all time playing the Celtics in Orlando. The Magic have won 5 of their last 8 games against the Celtics in Orlando. These two teams will forever be linked in Celtics history. The Magic beat the Celtics 95-92 on May 5, 1995, in the very last game played in the old Boston Garden before the Celtics moved to the TD Garden and the old Garden was demolished.
The Celtics are playing in their 3rd game in 4 nights and the second of a 3 game road trip. After playing the Pacers and Heat back to back, the Celtics had one day off to regroup. The Celtics are 5th in the East, 5.5 games behind the Raptors and 1 game behind the Sixers. They are 10-11 on the road and 7-3 in their last 10 games.
The Magic are 11th in the East and 8 games behind the Celtics. They are 4.5 games ahead of the 13th place Atlanta Hawks. They are 3-7 in their last 10 games and have lost their last 4 games. The Magic have been off since losing to the Jazz on Friday.
The Celtics will once again be without Aron Baynes (hand) but he may be back as soon as next week. Jabari Bird (personal) remains out as well. Mo Bamba is questionable for the Magic with a foot injury. Timofey Mozgov is listed as out with a knee injury.
Probable Celtics Starters
Jabari Bird (personal) out
Aron Baynes (hand) out
Two Way Players
Probable Magic Starters
Mo Bamba (foot) questionable
Timofey Mozgov (knee) out
Two Way Players
Al Horford vs Nikola Vucevic
Vucevic is probably the Magic’s best player. He is averaging 20.2 points, 12.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.8 blocks. Vucevic had 24 points and 12 rebounds in the Celtics loss to the Magic in October. Al struggled against the Heat on Thursday and hopefully he get it together for this game as his defense will especially be needed to slow Vucevic down. If he struggles again, we may see the Time Lord given a chance to cover him.
Marcus Morris vs Aaron Gordon
Gordon is playing well this season, averaging 15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds. Marcus has been one of the most consistent players for the Celtics on both ends of the court this season. He needs to continue to be a force on the offensive end while also keeping Gordon from having a big game.
Marcus Smart vs Evan Fournier
Fournier has put up some big games against the Celtics in the past. He is averaging 15.0 points, 3.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds this season. Smart needs to continue his strong play on the defensive end to slow Fournier down in this game.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense wins games, pure and simple. The Magic are averaging 103 points per game, which is 27th in the league. Boston is averaging just 112.1 points per game. Orlando ranks 13th with a defensive rating of 108.4. The Celtics have dropped to 4th in the league with a defensive rating of 104.5. Tough defense will win this 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 averaging 43.1 rebounds per game. The Celtics are averaging 45.0 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 as we saw on Thursday in Miami.
Move the Ball - The Celtics dominated teams during their 4 game win streak by moving the ball and racking up 30+ assists per game. They reverted back to too much hero ball against the Heat and had just 20 assists. They need to get back to moving the ball, making the extra pass and finding the open man.
Don’t Underestimate the Magic - The Celtics were surprised by the Magic in their last game in Boston and they underestimated them somewhat and allowed the Magic to get a 93-90 win on the Celtics home court. They tend to give less than their best effort against teams in the lower half of the standings and get beat. The Magic have already beaten the Celtics, Spurs and the Raptors and so they aren’t a team to be taken lightly. They need to play the Magic as if they were at the top of the league because the Magic are certainly going to give their best to try to beat the Celtics.
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.
Revenge Factor - The Magic came into the Garden and beat the Celtics on their home court. The Celtics also were strongly criticized by the TNT broadcast crew after Thursday’s loss to the Heat. They need to take the previous loss to the Magic and the recent criticism and use those to motivate them to play a strong game vs the Magic.