Game Preview: Celtics at Magic
BOSTON – Two great waves of momentum will collide when the Boston Celtics (7-6) and Orlando Magic (5-7) take each other on at 6 p.m. tonight in the Amway Center.
The Celtics and Magic both snagged significant victories Friday night. Boston took down the reigning Western Conference champion Thunder, while Orlando held off the Cavaliers to grab their second straight win.
Boston’s victory over Oklahoma City was critical for the C’s. They hadn't beaten a title contender prior to that victory and the win came in prime time on a Friday night. The Thunder didn't play a poor game, either. Boston won the game because of how it played, not because of how the Thunder played.
“We played with great force tonight,” said Doc Rivers. “I thought that was the difference.”
That punch was displayed at both ends of the court. Boston lit up the Thunder for 108 points on 48.8 percent shooting and hit 52.9 percent of their 3s. Paul Pierce led the way at the offensive end with a team-high 27 points, but three other Celtics also scored at least 16 points in the win.
The C's were drastically better at the other end of the floor than they had been in their previous two contests. Oklahoma City did shoot 46.8 percent from the field, but it was a difficult 46.8 percent. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Co. were forced to work hard for every point they scored in the game.
Boston’s goal is to bring a similar force into tonight’s game against a much less daunting Magic team. Orlando traded away its cornerstone player, Dwight Howard, this summer, and is now comprised of many mid-level players and lots of youngsters. The fact that the Magic don’t have a star on their roster allows them to play pretty solid team ball.
Six Orlando players are scoring in double-figures this season, including two former Celtics. Glen Davis is second on the team in scoring with 14.9 points per game and he also leads the team on the glass with 8.9 rebounds per game. E’Twaun Moore is also thriving in a backup point guard role, as he’s scoring 11.1 PPG and hitting 43.9 percent of his 3s.
This Magic team isn’t great, but it is definitely capable of competing. Orlando has a lot of shooting on this roster to go along with a shutdown perimeter defender in Arron Afflalo. This won’t be a cake walk for the C’s. They’ll need to bring that force again in order to continue their wave of momentum.
Repeat the Effort
We saw the good Boston Celtics on Friday night. Their impressive performance came after we saw the bad Boston Celtics in their previous two games. It’s about time we see a consistent effort from these guys, from top to bottom, and they know it.
“It’s about building consistency with these guys because it’s a team effort, it can't just come from your top three guys,” Pierce said after the win. “There are gonna be nights where we don’t play well. You need guys that are gonna come in there and pick you up and they did a good job of that tonight.”
Everybody did a good job Friday night. Boston must repeat that effort tonight against this Magic team.
They Can Still Rebound
Howard, widely regarded as the top rebounder in the game, may be gone, but this Magic team can still grab boards effectively. Orlando ranks eighth in the league in rebounds with 43.6 per game. Two Magic players, Davis and Nikola Vucevic, are each grabbing at least 8.8 RPG. To put that in perspective, Kevin Garnett leads the Celtics with 7.2 RPG.
Everyone knows that Boston isn’t a strong rebounding team. However, we’ve seen that the C’s can compete on the glass when they commit to it. They’ll need to tonight, or else they’ll be crushed in the rebounding department.
Another Point Guard Battle?
There may not be a better point guard in the league right now than Rajon Rondo. He’s obliterating the competition when it comes to his assist average and he’s hitting shots from the outside with consistency. He’s also coming off of a game in which he approached a triple-double.
Jameer Nelson is nowhere near the player that Rondo is, but he’s coming off of a near-triple-double as well. Nelson notched 22 points, six boards and six assists during Orlando’s 108-104 win Friday night. He has also had some pretty impressive games against Rondo and the Celtics both in previous regular seasons and postseasons.
Rondo brings all of the glitz and glamour to this game, but Nelson isn’t a bad player by any means. This should be another entertaining battle between opposing point guards.