Orlando Magic (9-3) at Boston Celtics (9-3)
Friday, November 20
8:00 PM ET
Game #13, Home Game #7
TV: ESPN, SunSpO, CSN HD, RTV
Radio: WDBO, WEEI
Referees: Eddie F Rush, Tony Brothers, Eric Dallen
This is the first meeting of these two teams since the Celtics were eliminated by the Magic in 7 games in last year's playoff semi-finals. I am sure the Celtics would like to get even for that loss and show that they are top dog this season. And I am also sure that the Magic are still smarting from Pierce's comment about them being poodles and the Celtics being rottweilers and will want to show that their win last season wasn't a fluke and that they are indeed the big dogs in this rivalry.
Both teams have changed considerably since the playoffs. KG is back in the starting lineup for the Celtics. Most feel that if he had been playing last May, the results would have been much different. But, the Celtics bench has also changed with Mikki Moore and Stephon Marbury being replaced by Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels. The Celtics have also added Shelden Williams who has been playing well off the bench. Big Baby, who hit that big shot in Orlando will be watching this one in a suit. But the Magic have changed even more than the Celtics and on paper are a much stronger team. They have replaced Hedo Turkoglu and Courtney Lee in the starting lineup with Mickael Pietrus and Vince Carter. Jason Williams replaces Rafer Alston. ON the bench, They have added Ryan Anderson, Matt Barnes, and Brandon Bass, all quality additions.
The Magic have been playing very well, but once again they have lost Jameer Nelson to a knee injury . The Celtics haven't been playing very well and their trademark defense has been missing for the most part recently. If they play like they did against the Warriors on Wednesday, they will probably lose this one. They have to get back their commitment to defense and keep their focus for 48 minutes as the Magic are not going to lie down and let the Celtics win this one. Word from practice is that the team was focused and that they are taking this game seriously.
PG: Rajon Rondo PPG 10.3 RPG 3.5 APG 8.7
SG: Ray Allen PPG 15.2 RPG 2.7 APG 3.4
C: Kendrick Perkins PPG 10.1 RPG 7.1 BPG 2.0
SF: Paul Pierce PPG PPG 18.4 RPG 4.8 APG 4.1
PF: Kevin Garnett PPG 13.6 RPG 7.5 APG 2.4
Key Player Rajon Rondo When Rondo is aggressive and setting the pace for the game, the Celtics are a completely different team than when he is tentative. As goes Rondo, so go the Celtics. We saw this in the Warriors game. In the first half, Rondo played tentatively and so did the Celtics but in the second half, Rondo was aggressive, taking the ball to the basket and pushing the pace of the game and the Celtics took over the game.
PG: Jason Williams PPG 5.3 RPG 1.3 APG 4.1
SG: Vince Carter PPG 17.1 RPG 3.9 APG 1.8
C: Dwight Howard PPG 18.1 RPG 10.7 BPG 1.8
SF: Mickael Pietrus PPG 10.0 RPG 3.2 APG 0.8
PF: Rashard Lewis PPG 13.5 RPG 6.0 APG 5.0
Key Player Dwight Howard Howard leads the team in points, rebounds, and blocks. Rashard Lewis has played well since his return from his suspension and Vince Carter is playing well, but Howard is the leader on this team on both ends of the court.
Kendrick Perkins vs Dwight Howard
Perk did a great job of slowing Howard down in the playoffs last year and the Celtics will need him to once again defend Howard with single coverage. His extra quickness from the weight loss should help Perk to stay with him. Hopefully he hasn't lost the strength needed to keep Howard away from the basket.
Kevin Garnett vs Rashard Lewis
KG has his lift back but still doesn't look 100%, especially on defense. But, his defense will be needed in this game as Rashard Lewis is well rested from his 10 game suspension and is raring to go. He missed a triple double by one assist in his last game (17 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists) and that was in just three quarters.
Bench vs Bench
The Celtics bench is much stronger than when these two teams met in the playoffs, and the Magic have a deep bench as well. The Celtics will need Sheed, Quisy, House and Shelden to contribute and hold their own against the Magic bench. The points scored by the benches may be the difference in this game.
Keys to the Game Defense
The most important key to this game is for the Celtics to get back to their defense first mentality. They have to clamp down on defense because they won't be able to out-shoot the Magic. Their defense has been very lax over the last stretch of games and it will take a concerted effort from every player for the defense to get back to where it should be.
The Celtics have been out rebounded in a few games already this season. Crashing the boards is very important in this game because of how dominant Howard is with put backs once he gets the rebounds. The Celtics must limit Magic second chance baskets by boxing out and crashing the boards. Effort, energy, and desire will show up in the rebounding stats. The team that wants the game more will win the rebounding battle. Hopefully, it will be the Celtics that want it more.
Run the Offense
The Celtics must run their offense. They have to move the ball and find the open man. They have to run their set plays and make their shots when they are open. They have been relying on quick 3's way too much this season and need to get back to taking the ball inside and making the extra pass.
The Celtics need to come out focused from the start. If they come out sluggish as they have in most of their games, they will find themselves in a hole that they may not be able to dig out of. They have to maintain their focus for 4 quarters because if the Celtics lose focus at all during the game, the Magic will take advantage.