Game Preview: Magic at Celtics
Even the Boston Celtics' worst shooting performance of the season couldn't prevent them from extending their dominance of the Orlando Magic over the weekend.
The Celtics figure to be brimming with confidence after also beating the defending NBA champions as they search for a 10th straight victory over the Magic on Monday night in Boston.
Boston shot 35.8 percent in Friday's 91-89 victory at Orlando, although it showed great balance with six players scoring in double-figures.
The Celtics were much better offensively one night later as they finished at a season-best 51.7 percent, winning 111-110 at Miami on Jeff Green's 3-pointer at the buzzer.
"I have confidence in every shot I have," said Green, who scored 24 points. "When it left, I had a good feeling it would go in. It went in."
Boston has won three straight since its 0-4 start. The Celtics made 10 of 21 3-pointers Saturday after entering that contest shooting 26.3 percent from long range.
"It feels good," Green said. "It shows that we're making strides to become what we want to become and we've just got to keep working and keep building."
One strength for the Celtics is their perimeter defense, as they lead the NBA in limiting opponents to 28.0 percent on 3-pointers.
Orlando was victimized by that kind of defense, shooting a season-low 20.0 percent on 3-point tries Friday and committing a season-high 20 turnovers. The Celtics also limited the touches of Magic 7-footer Nikola Vucevic, who had 14 points and 13 rebounds.
"(The turnovers) didn't help us initiate our offense and then secondly, they did a good job of trying to deny him the basketball," said Magic coach Jacque Vaughn about Friday's loss. "You've got to give them credit for their defense."
Orlando's last win over Boston was an 86-78 victory Dec. 25, 2010.
The Magic will try to snap a 15-game road losing streak after dropping to 0-3 away from home with Saturday's 104-94 loss to Atlanta. Orlando rallied from a 17-point deficit to take an 88-87 lead with 3:50 remaining before faltering again.
"There's just no room for error at that point," guard Arron Afflalo said. "We just couldn't close the game off tonight."
Vaughn gave eight players at least 20 minutes of playing time with the team playing for a second straight night. Afflalo led Orlando with 21 points while Vucevic was worse than he was the previous night against the Celtics with season lows of seven points and six boards.
"We tried to use everybody and so I think everybody got into the game, gave us a lift, just get a little something, a little momentum from everybody," Vaughn said.
Former Orlando forward Brandon Bass is averaging 14.1 points in seven meetings - all Boston wins - against the team that traded him to the Celtics on Dec. 12, 2011.
Former Celtics guard E'Twaun Moore is still searching for his victory against the team that drafted him. Moore is averaging 10.0 points in four defeats to Boston.