The Celtics are on the road for their 3rd In Season Tournament game. They face the Orlando Magic for the first of 3 games this season. They will meet two more times in Boston on December 15th and 17th, at the end of their upcoming 7 game home stand. The Celtics were just 1-3 against the Magic last season, winning their lone game in the series in Orlando and losing both games in Boston and one in Orlando.
The Celtics are 2-0 so far in East Group C for the In Season Tournament, winning their games against Toronto and Brooklyn. The Magic are 2-1, beating Chicago and Toronto and losing to Brooklyn. The Celtics will have one more tournament game against Chicago on Tuesday, November 28. This is the Magic’s final tournament game. The Celtics are the only unbeaten team in Group C.
The Magic are playing in the 3rd game of a 6 game home stand. They are 2-0 on the home stand so far with wins over Toronto and Denver. The Celtics beat the Bucks at home on Wednesday and have this one game on the road before returning home for a 7 game home stand that includes Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland twice and Orlando twice.
The Celtics remain first in the East after beating the 2nd place Bucks on Wednesday and they lead the Bucks by 2 games. They are 6-3 on the road and are 11-2 against Eastern Conference teams. The Magic are 4th in the East and have won their last 5 games. They are 5-2 at home and 5-2 against Eastern Conference opponents. The Celtics are 74-53 overall all time against the Magic and 26-36 all time in Orlando.
Jaylen Brown is on the Celtics injury list with a right adductor strain. He was on the injury list for the Hornets game but played in that game and then played against the Bucks. If he is unable to play, Sam Hauser is likely to get the start in his place. Jrue Holiday is also on the injury list for an ankle sprain. He is listed as probable for this game. Both Jaylen and Jrue are a game time decision.
For the Magic, Markelle Fultz is listed as out with left knee tendinitis. He has missed the last 7 games. Fultz will always be remembered as the player taken with the Celtics #1 pick while the Celtics took Jayson Tatum at #3. Fultz has been injury prone his entire career so far. Wendell Carter, Jr. is also listed as out after having finger surgery 3 weeks ago.
Probable Celtics Starters
PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Derrick White
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Kristaps Porzingis
2 Way Players
Jaylen Brown (adductor) questionable
Jrue Holiday (ankle) probable
Probable Magic Starters
PG: Anthony Black
SG: Jalen Suggs
SF: Franz Wagner
PF: Paolo Banchero
C: Goga Bitadze
2 Way Players
Wendell Carter, Jr (finger) out
Markelle Fultz (knee) 0ut
Jayson Tatum vs Paolo Banchero
Banchero was the #1 pick in last season’s draft. In his second season, he is averaging 19.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He is shooting 47.7% from the field and 45.5% from beyond the arc. The Celtics need Jayson Tatum to have a good game in this one.
Jaylen Brown vs Franz Wagner
Wagner is averaging 19.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He is shooting 43.4% from the field and 28.7% from beyond the arc. He is very capable of having a big game and the Celtics need to defend him well.
Derrick White vs Jalen Suggs
Suggs is averaging 12.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.0 steals. He is shooting 43.1% from the field and 33.3% from beyond the arc.
Keys to the Game
Defense - I can’t say it enough, but defense is always the key to winning. If you look at the best teams in the league, they are always at the top of the league in defense. The Celtics have climbed to 2nd in the league with a defensive rating of 107.5. The Magic are tied with the Celtics with a defensive rating of 107.5. The Celtics have to play tough defense for 48 minutes if they want to win this game.
Rebound - Rebounding is also crucial if a team wants to win games. You can’t score if you don’t have the ball and the best way to get the ball is to grab rebounds and give themselves extra possessions. Much of rebounding is effort and hustle and if the Celtics put the extra effort into grabbing rebounds, they usually show effort in all parts of the game. The Magic are first in the league with 18.5 second chance points per game and so the Celtics have to work harder to grab rebounds to prevent those 2nd chance points against them.
No Let Up - The Celtics have already had a few games where they built a big lead and then let up and allowed their opponents to overcome the deficit and either almost win, or in the case of the Charlotte game, to beat them. The Celtics have to come out strong and build a lead and then play hard to build on the lead or at least keep it. They can’t underestimate the Magic and have to play hard from start to finish. They can’t keep allowing teams to hang around and play better than them in the 4th quarter.
Reserve Play - The Magic have some very good reserves and they depend on them to contribute. Cole Anthony (13.9 points, 4.6 rebounds), Joe Ingalls (4.2 points, 2.4 rebounds), Jonathan Isaac (6.7 points, 4.2 rebounds) and Mo Wagner (11.7 points, 4.3 rebounds) are all capable of having big games if not defended well. The Celtics need to be ready for the Magic reserves while getting good production from their own reserves.
Take Care of the Ball - The Magic are first in the league with 21.2 points off turnovers per game. The Celtics play best when they move the ball and find the open man. But they need to make careful passes and they need to be careful when handling the ball and not dribble into crowds. If they get sloppy with the ball, the Magic will make them pay.
Road Game and injuries- The Celtics are playing on the road in between home games. It is also a matinee game that often throws some players off. They need to focus on the game and not on the distractions of travel and playing in an unfamiliar arena in front of hostile fans. If Jaylen Brown and Jrue Holiday are out, it will make it much tougher for the Celtics to win. Hopefully they both can play but if not, hopefully the Celtics depth will be enough to get them through.
Officiating - Officiating can always be an X-Factor. In some games, you don’t even notice the referees and in other games, they seem to make the game all about them. Some crews call the game tight and others let the teams play. Some crews favor one of the teams while others call it fairly. No matter how the game is called, the Celtics must adjust to the way the game is being called and not allow the officiating to take away from their focus.