The Orlando Magic are back in the Amway again tonight, taking on the Boston Celtics. This is the second night of a challenging 3 game home stand.
This one has a U.K. tip time of 12am midnight. The game will as always be available live & on demand via the NBA League Pass.
Our Orlando Magic are now at a record of 21 & 24 for the season, sitting a solid 7th in the Eastern Conference. Across our last 10 games we are 5 & 5. Our form at home is still relatively solid at 13 & 9 on the season. The last outing ended in defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder by 120-114.
In the NBA offensive rankings we moved up to 25th with a rating of 105.9 & scoring 104 points per game (which is again only the 29th worst record in the NBA for ppg).
Our defensive ranking took a bit of a hit from that defeat & is now the 6th best rating of 106.2, whilst allowing only 104.3 points per game (the best record for opponents ppg in the NBA).
THE MAGIC INJURY REPORT & STARTERS
Looking at the Magic injuries report we have the same 3 players out. So as before Jonathan Isaac (12 ppg) is out with a severe left knee strain & bone contusion & will not be re-evaluated until early-mid March. Al-Farouq Aminu (4.3 ppg) (torn meniscus) is out indefinitely after surgery but we have been granted the disabled player exception for him. DJ Augustin (10.7 ppg) is out with a knee injury which after an MRI scan has resulted in his being out until at least mid February.
Therefore our starting lineup will likely be Evan Fournier (18.9 ppg), Nikola Vucevic (19 ppg), Markelle Fultz (11.9 ppg) & Aaron Gordon (13.4 ppg) joined by Khem Birch (3.9 ppg) or Wes Iwundu (4.8 ppg), depending upon who Coach Clifford feels matches best to our opponents.
From the bench we have Michael Carter-Williams (5.7 ppg), Terence Ross (13.7 ppg), Mo Bamba (5.2 ppg), BJ Johnson (2.8 ppg) & Amile Jefferson (0.9 ppg). As I write there is no update on Gary Clark (3.9 ppg) as his 10 day contract expires today, though he was not at shoot around today & is not expected to be on the roster for tonight.
The Orlando Magic PR have tweeted out that we wear tonight the white Association uniform tonight.
This is the first time this season that we face the Celtics, playing them three more times by the close of the regular season. It could be a rehearsal for a playoff first round matchup.
The Celtics are currently sitting 4th in the Eastern Conference, with a 29 & 14 record. They come into tonight having heavily beaten the Memphis Grizzlies in the TD Garden, Boston on Wednesday 95-119. Across their last 10 games Boston are 4 & 6 but have won 2 games on the bounce. They have won 11 of 20 road games, so do travel well.
They have 4 injury concerns listed, 3 of which are to important players. Listed as questionable are Jaylen Brown (20 ppg) (ankle) & Jayson Tatum (21.5 ppg) (groin). Enes Kanter (9.5 ppg) (hip) & Robert Williams (3.9 ppg) (hip) are both definitely out. If Tatum &/or Brown are absent then the Celtics could be shorthanded as Romeo Langford (2.4 ppg), Tacko Fall (4.3 ppg) & Tremont Waters (4.3 ppg) are all with their respective affiliate.
That leaves “Magic Killer” & All Star guard Kemba Walker (21.7 ppg) to be joined by Gordon Hayward (16.1 ppg), Marcus Smart (12.4 ppg), Daniel Theis (7.8 ppg), Javonte Green (3.2 ppg), Carsten Edwards (3.4 ppg), Grant Williams (3.2 ppg), Vincent Poitier (1.8 ppg), Semi Ojeleye (2.7 ppg) & Brad Wanamaker (6.4 ppg).
Looking at the NBA offensive rankings Boston rank 5th with a rating of 112.7 & scoring 112.5 points per game. Defensively they are 4th at a rating of 105.7 whilst allowing 105.4 points per game.
History isn’t necessarily with us either for this one. Last season we swept Boston, winning all 3 games played. No Magic can forget us clinching the return to the playoffs with that win in Boston. Those results last season were a marked changed from the previous 11 meetings, in which we’d only won 3 games across 3 seasons (2015 to 2018). The all time head-to-head record in the 114 regular season games played sees the Magic down 51-63. In 17 games in the playoffs the Magic are up 9-8.
KEYS TO THE GAME
With their rankings, season record, road form & history make no mistake this is a tough game for us tonight.
We will have to contain the threat Kemba poses, something historically we are poor at doing. If Tatum & Brown make it they bring a major point contribution to the line up, as does the potential shooting of Smart. Any absence of such quality gives us a great opportunity.
With that said I believe it is a game in which we can get a win. Our defence is a match for any team. I refuse to believe it can be as disorganised again as it was against OKC. We all know that if we play well on D it gives us a platform to build a result from. If we can go into the 4th quarter level or with a lead we should feel encouraged as we are 18 & 1 from that position this season.
We have to play as a team. When we move the ball opportunities arise. The team has to come first over personal stats & glory. We can not have players holding onto the ball or throwing prayers from the 3.
As Magic fans I’m not sure there is a team we prefer to beat more than the Lakers, but the Celtics run them a close second for me.
WE BELIEVE IN OUR TEAM!
LET’S GO MAGIC