Celtics Looking to Sweep Home and Home with the Magic

Boston Celtics (7-9) at  OrlandoMagic (12-5)
Thursday, January 26
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #17,  Road Game #7
Amway Center
Referees:  Michael Smith,  Nick Buchert,  David Jones
These two teams complete the home and home series that began on Tuesday with the short handed Celtics recording a blow out win of historic proportions.  The Celtics were missing 5 players in that game including their starting point guard and shooting guard but they came out playing pestering defense behind full court pressure on Jameer Nelson that had him begging for mercy by the end of the game.

As it has been all season, it's not clear who will be available and who won't.  Ray didn't make the trip with the team due to some lingering soreness in his ankle along with a pregnant wife who is due any day.  But, the other 4 injured players all made the trip and could possibly play in this one.  Early word from Doc is that Dooling, Pietrus, and Wilcox should play.  Ray and Rondo won't play and Jermaine is a game time decision.   A. Sherrod Blakely also posted that Pietrus is expected to start at the 2 guard spot. 

The Celtics didn't just beat the Magic,  they embarrassed them, limiting them to the lowest point total in franchise history.   They will certainly be looking for a measure of revenge in this game.   The Celtics need to be ready if they don't want to be on the receiving end of a blow out this time.

The Celtics have been off since they played the Magic on Monday.  The Magic went on to play in Indiana on Tuesday night and will be playing in the 3rd game in 4 nights.  Hopefully they took out some of their frustrations in their 102-83 win in Indy on Tuesday night.    The Celtics are 2-4 on the road while the Magic are 6-2 at home.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Avery Bradley   3.2 PPG,  1.1 APG,  1.7 RPG
Jameer Nelson  8.9 PPG, 5.6 APG,  2.4 RPG

Shooting Guard
Mickael Pietrus   8.7 PPG,  0.0 APG,  ..441 3P%
Jason Richardson   10.7 PPG,  1.9 APG,  .327 3P%

Small Forward

Paul Pierce   14.6 PPG,  4.7 RPG,  4.1 APG
Hedo Turkoglu   14.5 PPG,  3.3 RPG,  4.9 APG  

Power Forward  
Kevin Garnett  13.2 PPG,  7.3 RPG,  0.8 BPG
Ryan Anderson  17.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG,  0.2 BPG

Jermaine O'Neal  5.7 PPG,  5.5 RPG,  1.5 BPG
Dwight Howard   20.2 PPG, 16.1 RPG, 2.3 BPG

Celtics Reserves
Marquis Daniels
Brandon Bass
Mickael Pietrus
Greg Siemsma
E'Twaun Moore
JaJuan Johnson


Keyon Dooling (knee) probable
Chris Wilcox (calf) probable
Rajon Rondo (wrist) out
Ray Allen (ankle)  out
Mickael Pietrus (shoulder) probable
Jermaine O'Neal (knee) questionable

Magic Reserves
Chris Duhon
Glen Davis
Von Wafer
Quentin Richardson
Earl Clark
Justin Harper
Larry Hughes
Daniel Orton
DeAndre Liggins
Jason Richardson

team pride

Key Matchups  
Jermaine O'Neal vs Dwight Howard
This is the key matchup between these two teams.  Whether it was Jermaine or team defense or just an off night for Howard, he only had 18 points and 14 rebounds, both below his averages, in the first game.  The Celtics managed to keep him from receiving the ball in his favorite spots around the basket and need to try to do the same in this game.   If Jermaine can't go, Greg Stiemsma will probably get the start and Wilcox and Bass will back him up. 

Avery Bradley vs Jameer Nelson
In their first meeting, Avery picked up Nelson full court the entire game and harassed him on defense until Nelson was giving the ball to Turkoglu to bring it up.    Whether it is Rondo or Bradley at the point,  they should stick with what worked in the first game and continue to play tough defense and defend Nelson the full length of the floor.  It would be great if Avery could once again frustrate Nelson and keep him off his game.

Honorable Mention
Paul Pierce vs Hedo Turkoglu
These two have had some tough battles over the years.  Pierce is finally finding his game and it is crucial for the team for him to continue to play well.  It's not surprising that the team has been playing better since Pierce started playing better.   Turkoglu is one of their key scorers and Pierce needs to defend him well and make him work hard on the defensive end.    

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is the key to winning. Period. They played absolutely amazing defense in the first game and the result was a blow out win over an 11-4 team.   If they continue to commit to defense and not let up, they could surprise the Magic once again, this time in their house.

Play Smart for 48 Minutes -  The Celtics played hard and well the entire game in their first game against the Magic.  They need to come out strong because the Magic are going to be gunning for them to avenge the beat down they got in Boston.  If the Celtics let up,  the Magic will take advantage.

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.  The Celtics out-rebounded the Magic 46-44 in their first meeting.  They need to have that same commitment to crashing the boards as a team that thy had in their first meeting.

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, especially if the jumpers aren't falling as they haven't been so far this season.  They also have to be aggressive in going after loose balls and rebounds as well.   And most important,  they have to be aggressive on defense.  If they play timidly in the least or show any weakness, the Magic will take advantage of it.  Their aggressiveness in the first game caused 23 turnovers by the Magic and they need to remember that and do the same thing in this game.  

Limit Turnovers - It seems that the Celtics will go on a run and then turn the ball over several times right after to allow the other team right back in it.  They seem to let up at times and lose focus.  They did a good job in this category in their first meeting with the Magic turning the ball over just 15 times.

Official Report
Michael Smith
A winner of the Vanguard Club Achievement Award in recognition of
outstanding accomplishments in the field of sports, NBA veteran official
Michael Smith has officiated 1,078 regular season and 28 playoff
games, as well as the 1997 Schick Rookie Game, the 2000 Mexico Challenge and the 2003 NBA Europe Games. In addition to his 17 seasons of NBA officiating experience, Smith has five years of CBA officiating experience
and eight years of collegiate officiating experience. Smith also has 10 years of high school officiating experience, and was a member of the crew
that officiated the 1990 McDonald’s High School All-America Game. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Smith. Many of those games were poorly officiated. In the last 2 games, the Celtics opponents shot 95 free throws to just 63 for the Celtics The Magic are also 6-4 over their last 10 games with Smith. Smith's home W/L record this season is 10-4.

Nick Buchert
Buchert is entering his second NBA season having officiated 65 games. He has nine years of collegiate officiating experience. Additionally, he has officiated the 2010
NBA D-League Finals and 2010 NBA D-League All-Star Game. He has only officiated 3 Celtics games in his career, all 3 being Celtics wins. The Magic are 2-2 in their 4 games officiated by Buchert. His home W/L record this season is 6-8.

David Jones
David Jones has officiated 1,335 regular season games and 40 playoff games throughout his 22 seasons as an NBA official. In addition, Jones officiated both the men’s and women’s 2000 Olympic Bronze Medal Games. Jones has eight years of collegiate officiating experience. He was one of the refs who helped to train Tim Donaghy and was very outspoken in condemning Donaghy's actions and felt that Donaghy's actions took the "ethics and integrity of the profession and threw them out the window." The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Jones. The Magic are 5-5 in their last 10 games with Jones officiating. His home W/L record this season is 8-6.

Injuries and Revenge
It's tough to plan when you don't know which players will be available and which players won't.   They surprised everyone by beating the Magic with key players out and we don't know which players will return for this game.  Will those returning players be as effective as the ones who filled in?  Will the Magic have revenge on their minds and come out gunning and play just as physically as the Celtics?  Will the Celtics underestimate the Magic's desire for revenge and play soft?   I guess we shall find out.