Celtics Look to Avenge Christmas Day Loss

OrlandoMagic (25-14) at Boston Celtics (30-9)
Monday, January 17
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #40,  Home Game #22
Radio:  WEEI,  WDBO
TD Garden
Referees:  Dan Crawford, Michael Smith, James Williams 
This is the second meeting between these two teams.  They first met in a nationally televised game on Christmas day when the Magic broke the Celtics 14 game win streak.  Rondo missed that game and Shaq fouled out after only 12 minutes.  Without Rondo to run the offense, the Celtics shot 35% for the game and a frigid 29% in the fourth quarter.  The Celtics led that game by 5 with 2:42 to go and were outscored 14-1 the rest of the way for the 86-78 loss.

Doc has predicted that KG will be back in the starting lineup for this game and hopefully he will be as the Celtics will need him for this game.  Even if his conditioning is off, the Celtics need his defense and his presence.  He went through a complete practice on Sunday and then attended the Pats' game and so it seems as though all is well with him.  Shaq, however, will be a game time decision after falling on the ice yesterday.   Hopefully Shaq will be able to go as his size and strength will be needed to keep Howard in check.  Marquis hurt his back running into a Perk screen in practice but said after practice that he should be good to go today. 

The Magic have been playing very well since the trade that brought Turkoglu, Arenas and Richardson to the team.  They are 8-2 in their last 10 games while the Celtics are just 6-4 in their last 10.  The Celtics are 18-3 at home while the Magic are 11-9 on the road.   The Celtics have had 2 days off while the Magic last played on Saturday.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Rajon Rondo   10.9 PPG,  13.4 APG,  2.4 SPG
Jameer Nelson  13.2 PPG, 6.7 APG,  0.9 SPG

Shooting Guard
Ray Allen  17.5 PPG,  3.1 APG,  .473 3P%
Jason Richardson  17.8 PPG,  1.6 APG,  ..421 3P%

Small Forward

Paul Pierce   19.2 PPG,  5.2 RPG,  3.4 APG
Hedo Turkoglu   10.3 PPG,  4.3 RPG,  3.7 APG  

Power Forward  
Kevin Garnett  15.0 PPG,  9.5 RPG,  0.7 BPG
Brando Bass  11.0 PPG,  5.5 RPG,  0.4 BPG

Shaquille O'Neal  10.0 PPG,  5.0 RPG,  1.1 BPG
Dwight Howard   21.9 PPG, 13.4 RPG, 2.3 BPG 

Boston Bench Mob
Marquis Daniels
Glen Davis
Luke Harangody
Von Wafer
Semih Erden
Nate Robinson


Kendrick Perkins (knee) out
Jermaine O'Neal (knee) out
Delonte West (wrist) out
Marquis Daniels (back) probable
Shaquille O'Neal (leg)day to day

Avery Bradley

Magic Reserves
Gilbert Arenas
JJ Redick
Earl Clark
Chris Duhon
Quenton Richardson
Ryan Anderson

Malik Allen (ankle) out
Jason Williams (foot) out
Daniel Orton (knee)  out
Key Matchups  
Shaquille O'Neal vs Dwight Howard
This is the key matchup between these two teams. Dwight Howard leads his team in points (21.9), rebounds (13.4) and blocks (2.3).   Slowing down  Howard and keeping him off of his favorite spots around the basket is key to slowing down the Magic.  Perk has always been one of the few centers in the league who has been able to cover Howard one on one.  One of the other centers who gives Howard problems is Shaquille O'Neal and Big Baby is becoming a Howard stopper as well.  He was held to just 6 points in their first meeting.

Rajon Rondo vs Jameer Nelson
In the first meeting between these two teams, the Celtics offense struggled without their floor general and Jameer Nelson took over down the stretch hitting a couple of key 3 pointers in the Magic run to close the game.

Honorable Mention
Paul Pierce vs Hedo Turkoglu
Even though Turkoglu is averaging just 10 points per game, he always seems to have a big game against the Celtics.  Paul will need to keep him from hitting those clutch shots he seems to always hit.  With KG just coming back (hopefully), the Celtics will need Paul to have another big game offensively as well.

Key off the Bench

Glen Davis - 12.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG,  0.4 BPG
With the return of KG (hopefully) Big Baby will once again come off the bench and bring energy to the second unit.  He will need to cover Howard when Shaq goes to the bench.  Hopefully he will do as well as he did the last game in helping to hold him to 6 points.  Big Baby will have to work harder on the boards as well to keep Howard from getting a lot of put backs and second chance baskets.

Gilbert Arenas - 14.3 PPG, 5.0 APG, 1.3 SPG
Arenas always has extra motivation to beat the Celtics.  If Arenas gets going, he could be trouble for the Celtics.

Keys to the Game
Focus for 48 Minutes -  In the last meeting between these two teams, the Celtics led most of the game but lost their focus down the stretch.  Having Rondo back will help but they all must focus on playing team ball.     The Celtics need to come out strong to begin the game and keep their focus for 48 minutes.  

Defense - Defense is the key to winning. Period. The Celtics have shown that they have the capability of shutting down teams and when they play tough defense, the offense runs more smoothly.  But when they falter on defense, it seems as though their game suffers on both ends.  The Celtics must defend the perimeter as the Magic have guys that can hit the 3 (as they did down the stretch of the last game) and they must also defend the paint where Howard does his damage.  

Rebound - Dwight Howard can take over a game on rebounds and put backs alone if the Celtics don't box him out and crash the boards as a team.  Rebounding takes effort and desire and the Celtics must show both if they want to win this game.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics have to be aggressive from start to finish.  They have to take the ball to the hoop and not settle for jumpers.  They also have to be aggressive in going after loose balls and rebounds as well.  

Referee Report
Dan Crawford
Dan Crawford has been a referee in the NBA since the 1984-85 season. Prior to the NBA, Crawford officiated in high school for 12 years, 8 years at the collegiate level (MVC and CCAC) and 4 years in the CBA (NBA development league). He has officiated 1,600+ regular season games, 190+ play-off games and 18 NBA Finals games. After one of the games in Chicago in round 1 in 2008, there was some controversy when he was seen leaving the arena with his family all decked out in Chicago Bulls gear.  The Celtics are 4-0 this year so far and over the last 10 games they are 5-5 with Crawford officiating.  Home team W/L is 24/10.   

Michael Smith
Michael Smith has officiated over 740+ regular season games and 10 playoff games.  He worked 5 years in the CBA, 8 years at the college level and 10 years at the high school level before making it to the NBA.   The Celtics are 0-1 with Smith this season and 6-4 in their last 10 with Smith officiating.  His home W/L is 22-8.

James Williams
Williams is a rookie referee coming to the NBA this season from the D-League.   The Celtics are 1-0 with Williams officiating this season.  His home W/L record is 13-15. 

Home Court and Shaq
TThe Celtics have been defending their home court well this season so far and they need to use the home crowd to give them the extra boost to win the game.  Shaq will be a game time decision and the Celtics really need him in this game to match up with Howard.