Orlando Magic (33-17) at Boston Celtics (32-16)
Sunday, February 7
2:30 PM ET
Game #49, Home Game #24
Radio: WDBO, WEEI, ESPNR
Referees: Mark Wunderlich, Matt Boland, Pat Fraher
Following a 2-7 stretch last month, Orlando seemed to have regained its footing by winning seven of eight going into Friday night's meeting with Washington. But Orlando blew an early 21-point lead on the way to a 92-91 loss. The Wizards outscored Orlando 39-17 in the third quarter and outrebounded them 52-41. This could give the Magic added motivation in this game to erase the bad taste from their loss to the Wizards.
The Celtics also had a rough January and may be turning the corner themselves as they have built a modest 3 game win streak, although the games haven't been exactly pretty. The Celtics faced the Magic during their struggles and lost to them 96-94 after allowing the Magic to outscore them 35-22 in the fourth quarter.
If both Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels come back for this game as planned, it will be the first time all season that Doc will have his top 9 players together. Even if they play, Pierce and Quisy probably won't be 100% but just having them play could give the team a boost.
The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 and 15-8 at home while the Magic are 7-3 in their last 10 and 14-12 on the road. A side note on this game is that with the Celtics' win on Friday and the Magic loss, the Celtics moved to .007 ahead of the Magic in the standings, with the Hawks just behind these two. These 3 teams are in a race for the second spot in the East and the honor of sending their coaches to the All Star game.
PG: Rajon Rondo PPG 14.4 APG 9.8 SPG 2.4
SG: Ray Allen PPG 16.1 APG 2.8 3P% .340
C: Kendrick Perkins PPG 11.6 RPG 8.2 BPG 2.0
SF: Paul Pierce PPG 18.9 RPG 4.7 APG 3.4
PF: Kevin Garnett PPG 14.6 RPG 7.3 BPG 2.0
PG: Jameer Nelson PPG 11.7 APG 4.7 SPG 0.8
SG: Vince Carter PPG 15.7 APG 2.9 3P% .309
C: Dwight Howard PPG 17.8 RPG 13.4 BPG 2.7
SF: Matt Barnes PPG 8.5 RPG 5.6 APG 1.7
PF: Rashard Lewis PPG 14.9 RPG 4.9 BPG 0.5
Kendrick Perkins vs Dwight Howard
Perk is one of the few players who can defend Howard one on one. Let's hope that Perk has his defensive mindset in place because the Celtics will need him to continue to defend Howard well in order for the Celtics to win this.
Kevin Garnett vs Rashard Lewis
KG has looked better in each game since his return but he still doesn't look 100%, especially on defense. But, his defense will be needed in this game as Rashard Lewis can beat you if you don't defend him closely.
Bench vs Bench
The starters match up fairly well on these two teams and the difference in the game may very well be the difference in this game. The Celtics may get a boost from the return of Marquis Daniels if he is indeed ready to go in this game. Hopefully Eddie, Tony, Sheed and Big Baby will come through in this game as well.
Keys to the Game
The most important key to this game is for the Celtics to get back to their defense first mentality. They have to clamp down on defense because they won't be able to out-shoot the Magic. They got away with lax defense for 3 quarters against the Nets and clamped down in the 4th quarter. They can't do that against the Magic. They must commit to playing defense for the entire game.
Crashing the boards is very important in this game because of how dominant Howard is with put backs once he gets the rebounds. The Celtics must limit Magic second chance baskets by boxing out and grabbing the rebounds. Effort, energy, and desire will show up in the rebounding stats. The team that wants the game more will win the rebounding battle. Hopefully, it will be the Celtics that want it more.
Run the Offense
The Celtics must run their offense. They have to move the ball and find the open man. They have to run their set plays and make their shots when they are open. They have been relying on quick 3's way too much this season and need to get back to taking the ball inside and making the extra pass. We saw them sharing the ball and making the extra pass against Miami and we need to see it in this game as well.
The Celtics need to come out focused from the start. If they come out sluggish, they will find themselves in a hole that they may not be able to dig out of. In the last game against the Magic, they came out strong and built a nice lead only to lose focus in the 4th quarter and lose the game. They must keep their focus for 48 minutes because the Magic will be ready to pounce on any lapses.
FLCeltsFan 2/07/2010 10:18:00 AM Tweet