at OrlandoMagic (32-19) at Boston Celtics (37-12)
Sunday, February 6
2:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #50, Home Game #27
TV: ABC, CHCH-TV
Radio: WEEI, WDBO, ESPNR
Referees: Dick Bavetta, Jason Phillips, Olandis Poole
This is the third and final regular season meeting between these two teams. The Magic won the first game in Orlando on Christmas Day 86-78. The Celtics then came back and returned the favor in January with a 109-106 win in Boston. This is the rubber match for bragging rights and the tie breaker should they somehow end up with the same record at the end of the season.
In their first meeting, Rondo was out and the Celtics had just 15 assists and shot just over 35%. KG was also playing his first game back after missing 9 games with the calf injury. On the Magic side, they had just made the trade to bring Turkoglu, Richardson, and Arenas to the team. Both Shaq and Howard sat out most of the game with foul trouble. In the second game, the Celtics had Rondo back and got back to a more Celtic-like 25 assists and shot 60% for the game.
The Celtics are coming off a tough loss to the Mavericks after a successful 3-1 trip out west while the Magic are coming off of a big win over the Wizards after a tough loss to the Heat at home. Speaking of the Heat, they trail the Celtics by just 1.5 games after Friday's loss to the Mavs.
The Magic are 6-4 in their last 10 games and 14-12 on the road. The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games and 22-4 at home. The Celtics tend to get up for big games, especially after a big loss. The Mavs became the first team to beat the Celtics twice this season and I'm sure the Magic would love to join them in that exclusive club. The Celtics won their first afternoon game on ABC against the Lakers. They are going to need that same kind of effort to come out again with a win.
Probable Starting Matchups
Rajon Rondo 10.6 PPG, 12.5 APG, 2.5 SPG
Jameer Nelson 12.5 PPG, 6.6 APG, 0.8 SPG
Ray Allen 17.4 PPG, 3.0 APG, .457 3P%
Jason Richardson 16.9 PPG, 1.6 APG, .397 3P%
Paul Pierce 19.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.2 APG
Hedo Turkoglu 10.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.9 APG
Kevin Garnett 15.0 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 0.8 BPG
Ryan Anderson 11.0 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 0.7 BPG
Kendrick Perkins 7.0 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 0.2 BPG
Dwight Howard 22.3 PPG, 13.7 RPG, 2.1 BPG
Boston Bench Mob
Jermaine O'Neal (knee) out
Delonte West (wrist) out
Shaquille O'Neal (hip/achilles) day to day
Brandon Bass (ankle) out
Daniel Orton (knee) out
Kendrick Perkins vs Dwight Howard
Perk has always been able to hold Howard below his averages and hopefully he hasn't lost that talent with the injury. Howard was a non factor in the Magic win as both he and Shaq sat out much of the game with foul trouble. In the 2nd game, Howard finished with 33 points and 13 rebounds. Hopefully Perk can slow him down in this one.
Rajon Rondo vs Jameer Nelson
As Rondo goes, so go the Celtics. The Celtics need Rondo to be aggressive on both ends of the court. In the loss, Nelson beat Nate to hit a couple of big 3's down the stretch to give Orlando the win. Rondo needs to keep the Celtics offense moving as well as containing Nelson to avoid a repeat of the Christmas day let down.
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.
Ray has 2555 3's now and needs 5 more 3's to tie and 6 to pass Reggie Miller for all time 3 point shots.
Keys to the Game
Focus for 48 Minutes - In the first meeting between these two teams, the Celtics led most of the game and led 77-72 with 2:42 left but lost their focus down the stretch. The Celtics did the same thing in their last game vs the Mavs. They were out scored 10-0 down the stretch. The Celtics need to come out strong to begin the game but more important, they need to keep their focus for 48 minutes and finish the game strong.
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 first 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. Having Perk back should help in this area but all the Celtics need to make a concerted effort to go after rebounds. 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.
Dick Bavetta was born December 10, 1939 and is currently a referee in the NBA. He has never missed an assigned game in 32 seasons of action. He has worked 2,200+ regular season games, 230+ play-off games and 24 NBA Finals games. He currently holds the record for most games officiated. There is no shortage of controversy surrounding Bavetta. He was singled out in Tim Donaghy's book for being a "company man" and carrying out league agendas in games. After watching a game where Bavetta has officiated, it's very easy to believe Donaghy's claims. He was left off the playoff roster last season and there were rumors of a forced retirement but here he is back again for another season. There are also rumors that he died 3 years ago and his contract with the devil allows him to continue to referee games. The Celtics are 1-1 this season and 8-2 in their last 10 games with Bavetta on the court. The Magic are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Bavetta. His home W/L record is 25-13.
Phillips has been in the league for 8 years. He has officiated 380+ regular season games. Before landing in the NBA he worked for the CBA 6 seasons, the WNBA 3 seasons, 2 years in the Dallas Pro-Am, and 5 seasons in high school level in Texas. This is the Celtics first game with Phillips this season and they are 7-3 over their last 10 games with Phillips as a ref. Orlando is 5-5 with Phillips over their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 27-14.
Poole has officiated over 110+ regular season games and spent 3 years in the NBA D-League before coming to the NBA. He also spent 12 years officiating at the college level. The Celtics are 2-0 this season and 9-1 over their last 10 games with Poole as a ref. Orlando is 8-2 over their last 10 games with Poole. His home W/L record this season is 25-14.
Focus and Home Court
The Celtics must keep their focus throughout the game, especially on the defensive end. They also have to focus on playing as a team. It never goes well when any player strays from the team concept and tries to do too much. The Celtics need to use the home crowd to give them the extra boost to win the game.