Watch It! - Celtics at Magic
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic meet at 7 p.m. tonight in the Amway Center.
Next Step: Win on the Road
Wednesday night’s victory over the Utah Jazz got the Celtics into the winner’s circle for the first time this season. It was a great step forward, not only because they notched a victory, but also because they fought through adversity during the fourth quarter to hold on for the win.
Those are big steps for this young team. Now it’s time for the next step: grabbing a victory on the road.
We all know that winning in another NBA team’s arena is not a simple task. Last season’s Celtics team, which featured Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo, went just 14-27 on the road. This Celtics team is 0-3 on the road and looking to get off the schnide. It will need to do so against an Orlando team that is undefeated, at 3-0, in the Amway Center.
Bust Their Balance
This Orlando team is incredibly balanced. That balance has played a key role in the Magic winning three straight games, including victories over the Nets and Clippers.
Nine of Orlando’s players have participated in all five games this season. Six of those players are averaging at least 10.4 points per game. Arron Afflalo, who’s pouring in 18.8 PPG, leads the group’s scoring effort. Orlando also has seven players who are averaging at least 4.0 rebounds per game, and three players who are averaging at least 3.6 assists per game. In contrast, the Celtics do not have a single player averaging more than 3.0 APG.
That type of balance is difficult for opponents to handle. In essence, there is no drop off in play when head coach Jaque Vaughn goes to his bench. The Celtics will need to bust that balance in order to win tonight’s game.
Continue the Treys
Boston finally had a solid performance from 3-point range when it his seven of its 20 3s against the Jazz Wednesday night. That matched the Celtics’ top output from downtown this season.
The Celtics were particularly on target from 3-point range during the first three quarters of Wednesday’s game. They made seven of their 13 treys over the first 36 minutes of the contest before missing all seven attempts in the fourth quarter.
Shooting efficiently from downtown is critical to this basketball team's success. Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens envision the Celtics offense operating in space. The only way to do that is by making the other team respect your team’s 3-point shooting.
Stellar Bench Trio
Stevens shook up the Celtics' rotation Wednesday night by inserting Jordan Crawford into the starting lineup. That move pushed Avery Bradley over to shooting guard and Jeff Green to small forward, but possibly even more important is the fact that Gerald Wallace moved to the bench.
Wallace now plays alongside Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk in the second unit. Stevens enjoyed what he saw out of that trio Wednesday night when it totaled 35 points, 22 rebounds and six assists.
“I thought the [Jared Sullinger- Kelly Olynyk combo] – with their ability to pass and stretch the floor, would open up some driving lanes for [Wallace] and some plays for him,” Stevens said. “Those three guys complement each other pretty well.”
Barring any lineup surprises, they’re sure to spend plenty of time on the court together tonight.
Crawford’s insertion into the starting lineup had a lot to do with Boston’s overall success against Utah. His seven points, two rebounds and four assists won’t blow anyone out of the water, but he made a dramatic impact on how the Celtics operated on offense.
Stevens touched on that fact when saying, “The offense was initiated well, I thought.
“I thought Jordan did a good job when he ran it. I thought Jordan’s play off the high pick-and-roll at the end of the game, just as a general play, settled us down. We needed to be settled down.”
Crawford got the Celtics into their stuff and made good decisions all night, particularly in key moments. He tied for the team lead in assists, all while not committing a single turnover. Boston will need him to make sound decisions and serve as a calming factor yet again tonight.