The Orlando Magic close out their preseason the same way they opened it, with a game against the Boston Celtics. The Celtics get their first taste of play on the road as they visit the Amway Center for their 3rd preseason game and their second against the Magic this preseason. They will play one more game on Friday as they travel to Miami to face the Heat.
These last two preseason games will be good experience for the Celtics as they play 7 of their first 10 games of the regular season on the road. The Celtics won the first game between these two teams 98-97. They are certainly getting experience in close games so far in the preseason as they won their second game over the Raptors 113-111 on Saturday. The Magic are coming off a 100-101 loss to the Spurs on Sunday.
Magic coach Jamahl Mosley has said that he plans to shorten his rotation somewhat in this game and use it as a tune up for the regular season. The starting lineup for the Magic listed here, is the same one they used against the Spurs on Sunday. As for the Celtics, they will be looking to get a longer look at their young players and their camp invites.
Jaylen Brown Saturday’s game after he tested positive for covid. On Tuesday, Al Horford joined him in quarantine after he also tested positive for covid. Along with those two, Ime Udoka is going to rest Josh Richardson, Dennis Schroder, Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum. I took a wild guess at which Celtics will start, but really have no idea who will be in the starting lineup. Udoka may start the camp invites to give them a bit more exposure or he may start the younger guys or maybe go with the more veteran players.
For the Magic, they have the same 4 players on the injured list as they did when they played the Celtics the first time. Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz are both still out after ACL tears last season. Michael Carter-Williams is out after ankle surgery. Chuma Okeke is out with a hip injury. Newly signed Devin Cannady is questionable with an ankle injury.
Possible Celtics Starters
PG: Payton Pritchard
SG: Romeo Langford
SF: Aaron Nesmith
PF: Grant Williams
C: Robert Williams III
Juwan Morgan (hamstring) out
Jaylen Brown (covid) out
Al Horford (covid) out
Josh Richardson (rest) out
Dennis Schroder (rest) out
Marcus Smart (rest) out
Jayson Tatum (rest) out
Possible Magic Starters
PG: Jalen Suggs
SG: Gary Harris
SF: Terrence Ross
PF: Wendell Carter, Jr
C: Mo Bamba
Jonathan Isaac (knee) out
Markelle Fultz (knee) out
Michael Carter Williams (ankle) out
Chuma Okeke (hip) out
Devin Cannady (ankle) questionable
Players to Watch
With several of the regular rotation players out for this game, Payton Pritchard, Romeo Langford and Aaron Nesmith should get extended minutes. The Celtics will need all 3 to step up this season and so this will be a good chance for them to show off their improvements from the off season and to show that they belong in the regular rotation.
Terrence Ross, Wendell Carter, Jr and Mo Bamba started the Magic’s last game against the Spurs and all 3 played very well. Ross is the Magic’s most veteran player and will need to be a leader on this team of young players. Ross is averaging 12.0 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per game in the preseason. Carter is averaging 12.3 poiints, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. Mo Bamba is averaging 12.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks.
What to Watch For
There is not much we can take away from this game, win or lose. The Celtics top 6 players are out for this one and the most we can hope for is to see one or more of the young guys to step up and have a big game and show growth.
Pace - The Celtics were 20th last season in pace and new coach Ime Udoka has said that he is hoping to up the pace this season. Even without the Celtics big guns playing, we should still seem them run and move the ball. They should play fast and limit the amount of ball sticking.
Defense - Defense is always a key to winning. The Celtics can be an elite defensive team this season. They have the individual defenders and a coach who made his career playing defense. The Celtics need to keep that defensive mindset, even with their top defenders out.
Aggressiveness - Too often last season, the Celtics allowed themselves to be out-played by other teams. They lost that swagger and edge that allowed them to beat a lot of talented teams in previous seasons. Players and coach alike have said that they want to play hard and to regain their swagger and aggressive style of play. Hopefully we will see that swagger from the young players who will get extended minutes in this game.
Next Man Up - Will the young guys step up and make the most of this opportunity or will they shrink from the spotlight? How they play in this game will tell us a lot about their readiness to be a regular in the rotation this season. Which players will stand out to fill the final roster spot and also fill the second two-way spot.
On the Road - This is the first road game for this team. Young players often struggle on the road. Hopefully the Celtics young players will be focused and come out and play hard in this first road game. Starting the season with 7 of 10 on the road, they have to become road warriors sooner rather than later if they want to get a good start on this season.