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Preview: Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics Game #50

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The shorthanded Celtics look to win their 5th straight game as they host the Orlando Magic.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics host the Magic for the second of 4 meetings between these two teams this season. The Celtics beat the Magic 109-98 in Orlando on January 24 They will meet again in Orlando on April 10 and they will play again in Boston on April 3. They played one game in the preseason with the Celtics coming out on top 100-75 in that game. Orlando won the series 3-0 last season.

The Celtics are 3rd in the East, tied with the 4th place Heat and 1.5 games behind 2nd place Toronto. The Celtics are 20-5 at home and 7-3 in their last 10 games. They have won 7 of their last 8. They have won 4 straight. The Magic are 9-16 on the road and are 3-7 in their last 10 games. They are looking for their 2nd straight win.

The Celtics are 65-50 all time against Orlando and they are 43-15 at home against Orlando. The Magic have lost 14 of their last 17 games in Boston. The Magic are playing in the second of a 3 game road trip. The Celtics are playing in the first of a 2 game home stand with the Hawks coming in on Friday.

The Celtics continue to struggle with injuries. Daniel Theis will be out this game after spraining his ankle on Monday against the Hawks. Robert Williams remains out with a hip injury. Marcus Smart (thigh) and Kemba Walker (knee) are both feeling better but have been ruled out for this game and will be a game time decision. Enes Kanter (hip) and Gordon Hayward (calf) are probable and will also be a game time decision.

The Celtics started Javonte Green with both Kemba and Marcus out on Monday. With both out once again, Javonte may get the start once again or he may start Grant Williams, which he has done before or possibly one of the remaining point guards. Tremont Waters was called up for Monday’s game against the Hawks and will likely remain with the team since both Kemba and Marcus are out again. I’m guessing that Kanter will start at center in place of Theis.

For the Magic, Al Farouq Aminu is out with a torn meniscus. DJ Augustin is out with a knee injury. Jonathan Isaac is out with a knee injury. Khem Birch is questionable with a back injury.

Probable Celtics Starters

Celtics Reserves
Carsen Edwards
Semi Ojeleye
Vincent Poirier
Brad Wanamaker
Grant Williams
Romeo Langford
Tremont Waters

Injuries/NWT
Robert Williams (hip) out
Daniel Theis (ankle) out
Kemba Walker (knee) out
Marcus Smart (thigh) out
Gordon Hayward (calf) probable
Enes Kanter (hip) probable

Two Way Players
Tremont Waters
Tacko Fall

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Probable Magic Starters

Magic Reserves
Mo Bamba
Michael Carter-
Williams Gary Clark
Melvin Frazier, Jr
Amile Jefferson
Terrence Ross

Injured/NWT
Al Farouq Aminu (knee) out
DJ Augustin (knee) out
Jonathan Isaac (knee) out
Khem Birch (back) questionable

Two Way Players
BJ Johnson
Vic Law

Head Coach
Steve Clifford

Key Matchups

Enes Kanter vs Nikola Vucevic
Vucevic is leading the Magic with 18.8 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. He is shooting 44.9% from the field and 34.9% from beyond the arc. Kanter needs to stick with him since he can score both inside and out. This matchup becomes even more important with Theis out for this game.

Jaylen Brown vs Evan Fournier
Evan Fournier is playing very well for the Magic. He is averaging 18.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.0 steals per game. He is shooting 46.1% from the field and 39.6% beyond the arc. He has put up big games against the Celtics in the past, including 30 points in the January 24th game. Jaylen needs to keep him off of the 3 point line where he can be very dangerous.

Honorable Mention
Gordon Hayward vs Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon is averaging 13.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game. He is shooting 42.1% from the field and 30.1% from beyond the arc. He is not a big threat to shoot 3’s but if left wide open, he will shoot them and likely make them. He is very strong in the paint and Jayson needs to work to keep him out of the paint.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense wins games, pure and simple. The Magic are averaging 103.3 points per game, which is 29th in the league. Boston is averaging 112.7 points per game. Orlando ranks 7th with a defensive rating of 106.8. The Celtics 3rd in the league with a defensive rating of 105.3. The Celtics need to continue to make defense a priority if they want to 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 44.7 rebounds per game. The Celtics are averaging 45.5 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 and when they play harder and are more aggressive, they usually get the win. The Magic will certainly play hard to avenge that January loss to the Celtics and the Celtics need to be ready for them and play even harder.

Move the Ball - When the Celtics move the ball, good things happen. When they over dribble and play hero ball, it doesn’t usually end well. They need to share the ball and find the best shot. They have to be careful with their passes, however, as the Magic average 17.0 points off turnovers per game and if the Celtics get sloppy like they did in the 4th quarter against the Hawks, the Magic will make them pay.

Play hard for 48 Minutes - The Celtics can’t come out and play sluggishly and get behind as they have in some games. In the first meeting between these two teams, the Celtics had to overcome a 16 point first half deficit to get the win. The Celtics have to come out strong and play hard right from the beginning. They also have to continue to play hard right up until the final buzzer. No let up from start to finish.

X-Factors
Home Game - The Celtics are back at the TD Garden for this game. They need to get a boost from the home crowd and use the cheers from the crowd as motivation to play harder. They need to defend home court and make the Magic know that they are in enemy territory.

Injuries - It goes without saying that the game will be much harder with Smart, Walker and Theis out. The Celtics beat the Magic last time with both Jayson and Jaylen out and hopefully it will be next man up mentality and they will step up their games to make up for their injured teammates.

Officiating - Officiating is always in x-factor. Every crew calls the game differently and the Celtics have to adapt to how the game is being called and not allow bad calls and no calls to take away their focus. Hopefully the officials call it fairly and let both teams play.