Orlando Magic @ Boston Celtics


The Orlando Magic blew a 21-point first quarter lead and lost the Washington Wizards, a team that is 15 games under .500. The Magic will be looking to get a win over the Boston Celtics to make up for the loss while the Celtics will be looking for revenge after losing to the Magic in the closing seconds just over a week ago. The Celtics also played poorly on Friday night but they were able to rally for a 96-87 victory over the 4-45 New Jersey Nets.

The 33-17 Magic have posted a 2-1 record against the 32-16 Celtics so far this season and won the only game played at the Garden so far this season. The Magic are 14-12 on the road for the season while Boston is actually not as good as they are at home – they’re 15-8 in the garden.

Tip-off from the T.D. Banknorth Garden in Boston is scheduled for 2:30 pm EST and you can watch the game nationally on ABC. ABC’s preview show, “NBA Countdown,” starts at 2:00 pm EST. As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen to it locally on WDBO AM 580 and in Spanish on WONQ AM 1030.

Every time these two teams, it is an intense game. The last time these two teams got together, Matt Barnes got in Paul Pierce’s face after Dwight Howard was fouled hard by Pierce. Pierce shoved Barnes and both players received a technical foul.

After Orlando’s victory last Thursday, Rashard Lewis admitted that he did not like the Celtics.

"“To me, they’re in our way of trying to get that championship trophy. Just like we’re in their way. You’re most definitely not going to like the teams that are in your way. It seems like it’s always a dog fight. Those guys are real cocky, they talk a lot of trash but I think it’s more of an intimidation factor.”"

Per ESPNBoston.com Celtics Small Forward Paul Pierce will be a game time decision.

"Rivers, who said both players had 50 percent chance of playing Sunday, said Pierce looked OK walking through drills but was hesitant during live action. Rivers said he was more encouraged by Daniels’ performance, but might err on the side of caution and give him another practice or two before bringing him back to game action. “We didn’t do too much [Saturday], we walked over some stuff and did a couple things live,” Rivers said. “[Pierce] looked OK, but I’m not sure yet [about playing Sunday]. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow& I thought he looked good until we ran a couple live plays, then he was a little hesitant. And if he’s a hesitant, I’ll probably sit him.”"

Update #2: Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers says Paul Pierce will play.

"Doc Rivers just completed his pregame media availability, and the Boston Celtics coach said Paul Pierce will play today against the Orlando Magic. Rivers also said Marquis Daniels also is available."



Dwight Howard
Rashard Lewis
Matt Barnes
Vince Carter
Jameer Nelson


Kendrick Perkins
Kevin Garnett
Paul Pierce
Ray Allen
Rajon Rondo

These two teams met just over a week ago on January 28th. The Celtics built a 16-point third quarter lead and it looked like they were going to run away with a victory but the Magic rallied and Rashard Lewis drove for the game-winning layup with just 1.3 seconds remaining to give the Magic a 96-94 victory.

Back on Christmas day, the Celtics’ defense completely dominated the Magic, holding them to an effective field goal percentage of just 36.5% and beat the Magic 86-77 without Paul Pierce.

Back on November 20th, the roles were reversed. The Magic held the Celtics to 34.5% shooting from the field en route to an 83-78 victory. Vince Carter broke a 78-78 tie hitting what would be the game-winning jumper with 2:32 remaining.

Boston remains the league’s elite defensive team, ranking first in efficiency and giving up just 93.7 points per game. The Celtics have done an excellent job against Dwight Howard this season, holding him to just 7.0 points per game in the first two meetings. Things seemed to change in their next meeting when Dwight Howard had an excellent fourth quarter and finished the game with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Howard, who acknowledges that Kendrick Perkins defends him very well, turned to his finesse game.

"“I know with Kendrick, he’s a great low post defender. With him you can’t try to be as physical. He’s a big solid mound of a guy down there so instead of trying to be physical with him, you have to move him so that’s what I tried to do in the second half. I watched some tape on him earlier and he was just able to root me out so I just tried to bang bang and bang with him.”"

It will be interesting to see if Howard can continue to move Perkins around and score against the best defense in basketball.

Boston’s offense has not been as good, ranking 12th in efficiency and scoring 99.2 points per game. Orlando’s defense has been improving all season and now ranks second in defensive efficiency per John Hollinger.
In fact, if you look at these two teams in terms of efficiency, they are virtually even. As mentioned above, Boston is first in defense (99.0) and 12th in offense (105.5). Orlando is second in defense (99.4) and 11th in offense (106.4).

After their heartbreaking loss to the Wizards on Friday night, Orlando’s players look at this game as a good way to forget about the loss.

Expect another close, intense game that comes down to whoever executes better down the stretch.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)