Tonight our Orlando Magic are in Boston, taking on the Celtics. This one has a U.K. tip time of 12:30am & the game will as always be available live & on demand via the NBA League Pass.
This is the second time this season that we face the Celtics, playing them twice more in April; which is the final month of the regular season.
Results against them could be important to our ultimate seeding in the playoffs, which is far from guaranteed yet. These games could feasibly be a rehearsal for a playoff first round matchup if we are able to climb a place up the Eastern Conference.
We are engaged in a scrap with the Brooklyn Nets for the 7th seeding, who tonight play at home against the Golden State Warriors. They are above us based only on having played a game less, though at this time we hold the tiebreaker over them. We have to face the Nets three times by the end of March.
The Magic now have a 22 & 28 losing record for the season, sitting 8th in the Eastern Conference.
We took an important & much needed win in our last game, beating the Hornets on the road by 112-100, snapping a 5 game losing streak we had been on. Across our last 10 games we still have 3 & 7 record. Our road form has been poor all season, sitting now at 9 & 16.
In the NBA offensive rankings we moved up on the back of the win in Charlotte to 25th with a rating of 105.9 but our average scoring is still only 103.3 points per game (which remains the 29th worst record in the NBA for ppg).
Our defensive ranking remains the 7th best at 107.1, whilst still allowing only 104.6 points per game (which is still the best record for opponents ppg in the NBA).
Magic Injury Report & Starters
The injury report for the Magic has one change from my last preview as Khem Birch (4.1 ppg) is dealing with a back injury & is questionable for tonight, having missed the Charlotte victory.
The rest is as before: Jonathan Isaac (12 ppg) out with a severe left knee strain & bone contusion which will not be re-evaluated until early-mid March. Al-Farouq Aminu (4.3 ppg) (torn meniscus) is out indefinitely after surgery. DJ Augustin (10.7 ppg) is out with a knee injury which is being re-evaluated in mid February.
Therefore our starting lineup will likely be Evan Fournier (18.6 ppg), Nikola Vucevic (18.8 ppg), Markelle Fultz (11.7 ppg) & Aaron Gordon (13.6 ppg) joined by Wes Iwundu (5.1 ppg).
From the bench we have Michael Carter-Williams (6.5 ppg), Terence Ross (13.2 ppg), Mo Bamba (5.6 ppg), BJ Johnson (1.9 ppg), Amile Jefferson (0.9 ppg) & Gary Clark (3.7 ppg) who has been resigned to a second 10 day contract.
The Orlando Magic PR have tweeted out that we wear the black Statement uniform again tonight.
The Celtics are currently sitting 3rd in the Eastern Conference, with a 34 & 15 record.
They come into tonight having heavily beaten the Hawks in the Atlanta on Monday 123-115. Across their last 10 games Boston are 7 & 3, having won 4 games on the bounce. They have won 20 of 25 home games, the TD Garden is certainly a fortress this season.
Looking at the NBA offensive rankings Boston rank 5th with a rating of 112.9 & scoring 112.7 points per game.
Defensively they are 3rd at a rating of 105.7 whilst allowing 105.5 points per game, which in ppg is second only to ourselves.
They have 6 injury concerns listed, 5 of which are to important players. Listed as probable are Gordon Hayward (17 ppg) (calf) & Enes Kanter (9.5 ppg) (hip). Questionable are Marcus Smart (12.4 ppg) (thigh) along with “Magic Killer” & All Star guard Kemba Walker (22 ppg) (hip). Daniel Theis (8.1 ppg) (ankle) & Robert Williams (3.9 ppg) (hip) are both definitely out.
The Celtics could be shorthanded but have quality in Jaylen Brown (20.4 ppg), Jayson Tatum (21.7 ppg) & role players who work hard for the team in Javonte Green (3.2 ppg), Carsten Edwards (3.1 ppg), Grant Williams (3.6 ppg), Vincent Poitier (1.8 ppg), Semi Ojeleye (3.1 ppg), Brad Wanamaker (6.5 ppg), Romeo Langford (2.3 ppg), Tacko Fall (3.8 ppg) & Tremont Waters (4 ppg).
History isn’t necessarily with us either for this one. When we met in the Amway on January 25th we were beaten 109-98 as Gordon Hayward & the Celtics role players stepped up.
Last season we swept Boston, winning all 3 games played. Last season was a marked changed from the previous 11 meetings in which we’d only won 3 across 3 seasons (2015 to 2018). The all time head-to-head record in the 115 regular season games played sees the Magic down 51-64. In 17 games in the playoffs the Magic are up 9-8.
Keys To The Game
We come into the fixture undermanned, with our road form not good & our offence still being somewhat dysfunctional. With their rankings (top 5 offence & top 3 defence), win record, solid home form & the matchup history there can be no other conclusion than this is a tough game for us tonight.
We will have to see who makes the Celtic lineup but if Kemba plays we have to contain the threat he poses, something historically we are poor at doing. In Tatum, Hayward & Brown they have players who bring a major point contribution to the line up, as does the potential shooting of Smart.
Our defence is a match for any team definitely functioned better in Charlotte than in games of late. We all know that if we play well on D it gives us a platform to build a result from, so don’t write us off.
If we can go into the 4th quarter level or with a lead we should feel encouraged as we are 19 & 1 from that position this season.
We were able to put up a 16 point lead in our meeting in January & had several opportunities to make the game a competitive one in the 4th quarter, but failed to take them. Cut out the mistakes & we can make a match of it.
Whilst I think this is one in which we may struggle to get a result it is also the location where we shocked the Celtics last April with a 116-108 win to secure our playoff appearance. Why not again?
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, so let’s get out there & get the W!
WE BELIEVE IN OUR TEAM!
LET’S GO MAGIC