Orlando Magic @ Boston Celtics


After getting a much needed victory over the Wizards in Washington Friday night, the Orlando Magic will head up to Boston to take on the Celtics who are perhaps the NBA’s best team.

The Celtics dropped 37-12 with their loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night but are still 1.5 games ahead of the Miami Heat for the #1 seed in the east. The Magic, who are now just fifth in the east, are six games behind the Celtics.

The Celtics are 21st in pace (90.8), 12th in offensive rating (108.2) and second in defensive rating (100.4).

This series has turned into one of the NBA’s best rivalries over the last few year with the Magic knocking the Celtics out in the second round of the 2009 playoffs and the Celtics returning the favor in last year Eastern Conference Finals.

The two teams have been pretty evenly matched over the last two seasons and in have been again this year as far as head to head competition goes. Orlando defeated Boston 86-78 behind a 12-point second half comeback on Christmas day. The Magic ended the game on a 15-1 run. Brandon Bass had 21 points to lead the Magic while Kevin Garnett led all scorers with 22.

On January 17 in the T.D. Banknorth Garden, these teams gave us another exciting finish with the Celtics prevailing thanks to a late Magic turnover 109-106. Dwight Howard’s 33 points and 13 rebounds led the Magic. Ray Allen had 26 points on an extremely efficient 8-of-11 shooting night from the field.

The game will be shown nationally on ABC. As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen on the radio – in English on AM 580 WDBO and in Spanish on AM 1270 WRLZ.

Tip off from the the T.D. Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts is scheduled for 2:30 pm EST.

The Line: Boston  – 4.5 (-110), -193u


Boston Celtics

Kendrick Perkins
Kevin Garnett
Paul Pierce
Ray Allen
Rajon Rondo

Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard
Ryan Anderson
Hedo Tukoglu
Jason Richardson
Jameer Nelson

Jermaine O’Neal (left knee surgery) and Delonte West (right wrist surgery) are out indefinitely while Shaquille O’Neal (achilles/hip) is questionable. He missed Friday’s game against Dallas.

Daniel Orton (left knee surgery) is out indefinitely. Brandon Bass is expected to miss another game because of his sprained left ankle.

The officials will be Dick Bavetta, Jason Phillips and Olandis Poole.

Opponent To Watch: Kevin Garnett, F – Garnett has been the catalyst for the Celtics defense, which may be the best in the league, since the moment he arrived. Although Garnett now gets a lot of praise for his defense and rightfully so, it’s his offense that’s helped kill the Magic this season. In two games against Orlando, Garnett has averaged 20.5 points per game and is shooting 63.0% from the field. On the season, Garnett is averaging 15.0 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. He’s going to provide quite a challenge for the Magic, who will again be without starting power forward Brandon Bass. Ryan Anderson is a nice player but this is going to be a tough matchup for them.

What To Watch For: One of the league’s best recent rivalries will be renewed in this game and things will probably get feisty again thanks to the return of Kendrick Perkins. Perkins may be the only player left in the league who can pick up a technical foul faster than Dwight Howard. This is a touch test for the Magic because they do not currently look like legitimate title contenders while the Celtics could very well be on their way to the NBA Finals for the third time in four years. No team has given the Big Three era Celtics more problems than the Magic, who are 14-8 in their last 22 meetings with the Celtics.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and ESPN 1080’s Magic Insider (http://espn1080.com). Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).