Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics (March 21, 2021): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic could not find their shot as they fell to the Boston Celtics on the road. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
The Orlando Magic could not find their shot as they fell to the Boston Celtics on the road. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic ended their losing streak and now face a struggling and desperate Boston Celtics team on the road in a Sunday afternoon matinee.

Orlando Magic (14-27) at Boston Celtics (20-21)


3:30 p.m./FOX Sports Florida




No tickets available on StubHub

2021 Season Series:

Celtics 124, Magic 97

in Boston on Jan. 15; Tonight in Boston; May 5 in Orlando

PaceOff. Rtg.Def. Rtg.eFG%O.Reb.%TO%FTR

OMD Prediction

The Orlando Magic were desperate for a win Friday against the Brooklyn Nets and played like it. The Nets acknowledged that and said they did not match the Magic’s desperation. Orlando needed that win bad. The question will be whether the Magic will have that desperation again. What carries over? The bad teams rest on their momentary successes and do not build consistency. The Magic do not want this group to be considered a “bad” team. This is an anomaly year.

The Boston Celtics should also be playing with a certain amount of urgency. Their team has looked off all year and they have fallen below .500 despite All-Star years from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. This group is still as potent as ever. But the Celtics have lost four of their last five.

Prediction. 107. 38. 102. 18

3 Keys To Watch

Positive Signs

When a team is struggling, the coach is always looking for positive things he can point out and double down on. Something he can give his team so he can instill confidence. The Orlando Magic finally had their offensive breakthrough in Friday’s win. It was desperately needed to see the ball go into the basket like that. And the Magic have to score.

But this team is built on its defense, especially since the All-Star Break. The Magic have posted a 107.6 defensive rating, the seventh-best in the league since the All-Star Break. Orlando’s defense has been legitimately good. And coach Steve Clifford is right to say that playing defense like this will give his team a chance to win. Orlando will remain competitive so long as the team’s defense is at the top.

Stuck in neutral

When a team has two All-Stars, things should be fairly easy. The Orlando Magic would like to know the feeling of having perennial All-Stars on the wing — Tracy McGrady was the last wing player to make multiple All-Star Games with the team. The game can be so much easier with a guy who can score. But the Celtics are stuck in neutral. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are scoring and the Celtics do not have much else.

Boston has the fifth-worst assist rate in the league since the All-Star Break. That is not always correlated with winning. But in this case, it is not a good look with Boston going 1-4 since the break. Tatum is scoring 25.4 points per game and Brown is scoring 22.4 points per game. But Boston is not getting much else right now. Boston has had Orlando’s number recently with those two — and Kemba Walker — torturing them especially. But the Celtics are struggling right now.

Aaron Gordon’s big games

The Orlando Magic certainly have an eye on the trade deadline. And nobody is naive enough to think that some of the players do not have some thoughts on that too. Aaron Gordon has always been a player who perks up for big matchups — sometimes in good and bad ways. His 38-point effort against the Brooklyn Nets was a huge boost. Orlando does not win that game without him.

And Aaron Gordon has often stepped up in matchups with Jayson Tatum — Tatum is averaging 14.0 points per game and shooting a 48.7-percent effective field goal percentage against Orlando in his career. Tatum has had some big games recently though.

Next. Orlando Magic exuding confidence they can finish strong. dark

Gordon has stepped up in big ways too. He has been in and out of the lineup, but his shooting performance from Friday was not so irregular. Gordon is hitting 49.0-percent of his catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, according to NBA.com’s tracking stats. If this is a permanent change to Gordon’s game, that complicates the decision coming this Thursday.