Boston: 99.0 points/100 possessions (19th)
Orlando: 105.2 points/100 possessions (2nd)
Boston: 98.3 points/100 possessions (10th)
Orlando: 99.3 points/100 possessions (16th)
Probable Magic Starters: Jameer Nelson (PG), JJ Redick (SG), Jason Richardson (SF), Ryan Anderson (PF), Dwight Howard (C)
Orlando: None. Boston: Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen are both doubtful. Keyon Dooling and Chris Wilcox are probably out. UPDATE: MICKAEL PIETRUS IS OUT TONIGHT WITH A SHOULDER INJURY.
View From The Opposing Bench: Magic Basketball
Boston’s list of 2011-12 victims isn’t impressive: they’ve beaten Detroit, New Jersey, Toronto and Washington (x3) this season. Tonight, they get another chance to take down a winning team as the improbably strong Magic ride into town. But, while Glen Davis will be on the court, Ray Allen probably will not, having injured his ankle in yesterday’s win over the Wizards. Rajon Rondo may give it a go but the C’s go into this one as underdogs even if they both suit up.
The Magic are the second best three-point shooting team in the NBA at 40.1% (Boston is first at 42.7%) but unlike the Celtics who are only 26th in the league in three-point-attempts per game, the Magic capitalize on their proficiency; on average, they take 25 threes a game. As has been the case for years, much of Orlando’s success comes from being able to post Dwight Howard up underneath the basket and then spread the floor with shooters.
There are two keys for the Celtics on defense tonight. The first will be single-covering Howard, a near impossible task as he’s put up three 20-20 games in his last five and Jermaine O’Neal has struggled with foul trouble this season. However, you can still beat Orlando by limiting their looks from the arc. Hedo Turkoglu is shooting almost 48% from three this season, with additional danger coming from Ryan Anderson (41.9% on 7.8 attempts per game!) and JJ Redick (39.6%). If they see too much daylight, the Celtics are going to lose.
If Paul Pierce is fatigued after his all-world game against Washington yesterday, Mickael Pietrus could see longer minutes against his former team, and spend them racing around the perimeter challenging shots. With Allen out or limited, this could also be a good game for Avery Bradley to lock down someone on the perimeter (Redick, perhaps). Is he capable of doing that against an elite team? Or will he overplay his man and land in foul trouble?
On the offensive end of the ball, it’s a crapshoot. Unless it’s against a team like Washington, Boston is alarmingly dependent on Rondo for pace and shot creation. If he’s playing tonight, and playing well, the Celtics could score the ball effectively against an Orlando defense that has struggled this season. Or at the very least, Boston should be able to get the shots they want (they’ll get few second chance points, as Orlando is the best defensive rebounding team in the league). If Rondo’s out or off his game, Orlando is likely to cruise to victory.
Orlando 101 Boston 89