Believe it or not, we are less than one month away from the first Magic preseason game. Orlando will open training camp on October 1 and open the preseason in Mexico City against New Orleans on October 7. So how will we get ready? By counting down to the beginning of the season on November 2 against Denver. Let's continue:
I am not going to lie, it feels good to see the Celtics lose sometimes (except when it is to the Heat and the Lakers). Orlando and Boston have built quite the nice rivalry in the last few years. You could even argue that it goes back to 1995 when the Magic closed the Boston Garden for good — Shaquille O'Neal proclaimed it so.
The Celtics probably view the Magic as a gnat. I know I would. We pop up every once in a while, draw some blood before the giant hand and those 17 banners come crashing down on us. Jeff Clark of Celtics Blog picked in his NBA Comeback Day post for SB Nation, the 27-point comeback that may have been the symbol of the Magic's collapse (at least to us). It was, after all, the loss to the Celtics in the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals that started the Magic on the road to ruin. For the record, Evan's memory for Comeback Day was the 2009 Playoff run.
Oh, but we have so many good memories of beating the Celtics.
The Magic's first Playoff win and series win was against Boston in 1995 (when they closed the Boston Garden). Orlando knocked out Boston in that 2009 run and that was very gratifying. But there are other great Magic-Celtics moments. It may not be a rivalry in the truest sense, but there have been some good games.
I highlight a specific one here. In 1994, the Magic were on their way to their first Playoff berth and Shaquille O'Neal was tearing up the league.
On February 15, O'Neal scored 36 points and grabbed 24 rebounds in a 102-92 victory over Boston. This was the first game after the All-Star Break and, as Selena Roberts wrote in the Orlando Sentinel at the time, O'Neal wanted to make up for a poor performance in the All-Star game:
''I'm going to buy a page – front page – in the paper one day and call it: Shaq's Views,'' said O'Neal, who used the game as his forum on this night to answer his critics. ''I love it (the media). It's funny. No one was writing about the facts. It wasn't the (West All-Stars') defense. It was Tree Climbing. They didn't want me to take over the game.''
He didn't have to face quadruple-teamming the way he did in the All-Star Game. It was back to normal against Boston (20-28), which was so overpowered underneath that it was outrebounded on the offensive boards, 24-3, the second lowest total in NBA history.
The rebounding saved the Magic (28-20), who shot just 37 percent from the field.
''This obviously wasn't a very pretty game, but that often happens the first game back after the All-Star break,'' Hill said. ''I was a little bit concerned, but fortunately we had the energy in the fourth quarter.''
Yeah, O'Neal could clean up a lot of mistakes. Winning a game by 10 points when you shoot 37 percent from the floor and your opponent nearly shoots 50 percent just does not happen. Shaq was just on a tear that year — he would end up averaging 29.3 points per game and 13.2 rebounds per game. He finished second in MVP voting to David Robinson that year.
O'Neal, for his career, averaged 24.3 points per game and 11.7 rebounds per game in 42 games against the Celtics. With the Magic, O'Neal averaged 30.5 points per game, averaged 13.7 rebounds per game and shot 60.5 percent from the floor in 15 games, including an astounding 37.3 points per game and 14.3 rebounds per game in four games against the Celtics in 1994.
He liked to victimize Boston.
Orlando is 42-47 against Boston all time.