Orlando Magic vs. Boston Celtics (November 24, 2023): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Jan 23, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA;  Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) dunks the ball
Jan 23, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) dunks the ball / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic close out their In-Season Tournament schedule with a critical clash with the Boston Celtics. A matchup of the two top teams in the Eastern Conference early this season.

12-3 (2-0, +17). 10-5 (2-1, +5). Celtics by 5 (O/U 223). 38. 2:30 p.m.. 18. NBATV, Bally Sports Florida. Nov. 24, 2023. Magic Celtics 11.24.23

Tickets: $50-$787,500 on StubHub
Season Series: Today in Orlando; Dec. 15 in Boston; Dec. 17 in Boston


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OMD Prediction
Our Record: 8-7/9-6 ATS

When the Orlando Magic's schedule came out back in August, this was one of the games that immediately caught the eye.

The Magic and Celtics already have a mini-rivalry -- even beyond closing the Boston Garden in 1995 and the rivalry that developed in the 2009 and 2010 Playoffs. The Magic have played the Celtics tough even as the Celtics continued competing for titles and the Magic struggled to find footing in their rebuild.

Remember Orlando clinched its 2019 Playoff spot in a come-from-behind victory at TD Garden last year. Three of the Magic's best wins last year came against the Celtics -- the pair of wins in December at TD Garden to cap off a six-game win streak (the Magic are currently on a five-game win streak, just saying) and Jonathan Isaac's triumphant return in January.

And that does not even get into how Boston fans always seem to come out of the woodwork for the games at the Amway Center.

Add in that this is the In-Season Tournament game -- the finale for the Magic -- with major implications for both teams in their hopes of advancing, and there is a lot in this game before we even get into the specific matchup.

In many ways, the Magic are rolling. A five-game winning streak and a ton of confidence. The Celtics have been a juggernaut all season but have shown weaknesses, blowing leads against the Charlotte Hornets (in a loss) and Milwaukee Bucks (in a win) this week.

Boston is still tough and some injuries -- Jaylen Brown is listed as QUESTIONABLE with a right adductor strain -- may slow them down some. Orlando will have to have a great game to stand tall. This will be a major challenge. And potentially a major statement.

Prediction. 107. 18. Magic Celtics Prediction 11.24.23. 111. 38

3 Keys To Watch

Battle for the Paint

Everything for the Orlando Magic starts in the paint. And in games like this one where everyone has to be on their Ps and Qs and tuned into the details, that is when a team has to commit to its identity more than anything else. So put the focus in the paint -- where the Orlando Magic beat Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets 60-44 -- for this game.

The Boston Celtics feature a ton of size. Kristaps Porzingis is an excellent rim protector. Jayson Tatum is a forward in the mold of what the Orlando Magic look for in an oversized playmaker and scorer (Tatum and Paolo Banchero did have at least one workout together this summer). There are a lot of similarities between these two teams.

The Magic have been excellent in the paint this year. They average 53.2 points in the paint (eighth in the league) and lead the league with a 32.2 percent free throw rate (essentially one free throw for every three field goal atempts). Orlando shoots 32.3 field goal attempts per game in the restricted area, the third-most in the league.

Equally as impressive, the Magic give up only 46.4 points in the paint per game. That is a number that is slipping but still sits at 10th in the league. Boston relies a little bit more on 3-point shooting, averaging 44.5 points in the paint per game (25th in the league). The Celtics though are stingy on the interior, giving up only 44.5 points in the paint per game.

The Jaylen Brown Factor

The Boston Celtics have been steamrolling teams throughout the season and have been excellent on both sides of the ball. Boston has looked like a championship contender with size throughout the lineup, a solid rim protector in Kristaps Porzingis, a superstar scorer in Jayson Tatum and Jrue Holiday's hounding defense. They have been able to mix up their bench and keep pressure on opponents at every turn.

It has been a great season for everyone. But it has taken Jaylen Brown some time to get going.

Brown is averaging only 21.6 points per game and his effective field goal percentage has dropped to 53.0 percent, his worst mark since 2019. Brown is hitting only 46.0 percent of his shots.

That does not mean anyone should sleep on him. He is still an excellent 3-point shooter. But he may be the player who is having the toughest time adjusting to the new weapons in the Celtics' lineup.

Never fear, Brown looked to right the ship with 26 points and he had several Boston outlets praising his poise in the Celtics' win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday. That has everyone breathing a sigh of relief.

Here is the rub though. Brown is listed as QUESTIONABLE for the Celtics with a right adductor strain. Boston has weapons to fill in offensively, but Brown is a dangerous shooter and the Magic are going to have a tough time figuring out who to let beat them.

In-Season Tournament Update

The Orlando Magic will be the first team in East Group C to close their In-Season Tournament group play games with Friday's game against the Boston Celtics. Wins against the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets have revived their opportunities to advance.

The situation is not so simple to explain. So as Franz Wagner put it, it is a good thing to win. If the Magic lose, they are essentially eliminated from contention to advance. The Boston Celtics do not have the same pressure with one more game remaining against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday and a 2-0 record.

After winning, the math gets complicated. Among the three teams in Group C with the two wins so far, the Magic have the worst point differential. The team did well to make up ground with Tuesday's win over the Toronto Raptors but there is still a ways to go. A win by a decent margin would help this team a lot as the Celtics have a +14 point differential.

The wild card situation does not look much rosier but there is definitely still a chance to win it. The Miami Heat lead the wild card with a 2-0 record and +13 point differential. The Miami Heat play the New York Knicks on Friday and the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday. Essentially, the Heat advance as long as they win one of those games and do not get blown out in the loss.

Next. Orlando Magic are announcing themselves in pursuit of NBA Cup. Orlando Magic are announcing themselves in pursuit of NBA Cup. dark

Orlando does not control its own destiny at all. But a win makes things interesting and sets a number in the clubhouse heading to the final day of the In-Season Tournament's group play on Tuesday.