Watch It! – Magic at Celtics
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight at TD Garden.
Back on Track
Boston fell Wednesday night to the visiting Milwaukee Bucks. That didn’t sit well with the guys in green and white.
The Celtics locker room was silent following the game, with players rarely showing their faces in front of the media. Clearly, the defeat – only Boston’s third since March 8 – left the team with a sour taste in its mouth.
Tonight is their opportunity to get back into the win column and return positive vibes to the locker room. This is a game the Celtics should win, against a team that has lost as many games as Boston has won (48). Getting back on track with a win would provide the C’s with a one-game lead for first place in the East.
Potential Season Sweep
The C’s have gone sweeping seven times already this season, having won every game they had on the schedule against Dallas, Indiana, the LA Lakers, Memphis, Miami, Minnesota and Utah. Tonight, they have an opportunity to add to that list by downing Orlando.
Boston is 2-0 against the Magic and tonight’s matchup will mark the last between the two teams this season. The C’s have beaten Orlando by an average of 30.0 points during their two meetings, which signifies that this matchup favors Boston in a significant manner.
Orlando’s Closing Out Strong
Orlando has suffered a draining season, one that began with hopes of reaching the Playoffs. Its recent play, and potentially a strong final week and a half of the season, could send it into the offseason on a positive note.
The Magic have gone 3-3 during their last six games, and two of those losses were by eight points or less, including an overtime defeat Wednesday night to Oklahoma City that featured a record-breaking triple-double from Russell Westbrook. During the six-game stretch, Orlando has competed at a high level with three teams that are either in the Playoffs or are competing for a spot in the Playoffs (Charlotte, Detroit, Oklahoma City).
Wins are great, but what the young Magic should be concerned with right now is competing at a high level. They have been doing that of late and will look to continue that trend tonight at the Garden.
Orlando made a significant move at the trade deadline by sending Serge Ibaka to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Terrence Ross and a future first-round pick. That move drastically altered the team’s rotation, and the new rotation seems to now be clicking.
Ross is now the team’s new starting small forward, joining Elfird Payton, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic in the starting lineup. That’s a long, young, athletic and talented fivesome. All five of the players scored in double-figures Wednesday night, including 23 points from Ross.
Ross is averaging 13.7 points per game with Orlando and has scored between 14 and 23 points during each of his last six games. He is one of the key ingredients to Orlando’s new-look offense that the C’s have yet to see in live game action.
The Magic certainly need a new-look offense, because their previous version had no luck against the Celtics. Boston’s defense has absolutely dominated Orlando this season.
The C’s have limited the Magic to a putrid average of 92.5 PPG on 40.1 percent shooting through two contests. Not a single member of Orlando’s team has scored more than 15 points against Boston this season.
Clearly, what Brad Stevens and the C’s have cooked up at the defensive end of the court has been Orlando’s kryptonite. Let’s hope that trend can continue tonight against the Magic’s fresh offensive look.