Orlando Magic (9-20) at Boston Celtics (22-7) Game #30 12/16/22

the celts They are finally back home after a 13-day, 6-game trip in which they went 4-2. Two of the most difficult games for a team are the last game of a long road trip and the first game back home after the trip. The Celtics won the last game on the road trip and now hopefully they can win the first game at home.

This is the second of 4 games between these two teams this season. The Celtics won the first meeting between them 126-120 on October 22, in the second night of consecutive games. They will meet again in Boston in 2 days on December 18. Their final meeting will be on January 23 in Orlando. The Celtics won the series 3-0 last season.

The Celtics have won the last 10 meetings between these two teams and 18 of the last 21 have been played in Boston. Orlando’s last win was on April 7, 2019 in Boston. The Magic will forever be tied to Celtics history, as they were the last opponent to play in the old Boston Garden before it was torn down. The Magic beat the Celtics 95-92 in that game on May 5, 1995.

Orlando just ended a 5 game home streak where they went 4-1. Those 4 wins include the Clippers, the Raptors twice, and the Hawks. This is the first game of a 4 game road trip for them, with the first two games on the trip coming against the Celtics. The Celtics just completed a 6 game road trip and this is the first game of a 7 game home series that will take them through the end of December.

The Celtics are first in the East, 1.5 games ahead of second-place Milwaukee, who were blown out by the Grizzlies on Thursday night. The Celtics are 11-2 at home and 7-3 in their last 10 games. They are 14-5 against teams from the Eastern Conference. The Magic sit 13th in the East, 1.5 games out of last place. They are 1-11 on the road and 4-6 in their last 10 games. They have won their last 4 matches. They are 5-15 against teams from the Eastern Conference.

The Celtics received some good injury news Thursday. Robert Williams, who has yet to make his season debut, is expected to play in this one. Al Horford has missed the last 5 games, first due to Health and Safety Protocols and then due to the birth of his daughter. I hope Al is back in the lineup for this one as well. I’m going to assume Al returns to the starting lineup while Timelord comes off the bench for his first game back. Danilo Gallinari is out.

The Magic have 5 players off the disabled list. Wendell Carter, Jr (foot), Gary Harris (hamstring), Chuma Okeke (knee) and Jalen Suggs (ankle) are out for this game, but they may return for Sunday’s game. Jonathan Isaac (knee) is also out for this game, but he is expected to remain out until at least December 30.

Possible Celtics starters

PG: Smart Marcus
SG: Derrick White
CF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Al Horford

Celtics Reserves
malcolm brogdon
grant williams
sam hauser
payton pritchard
luke kornett
Blake Griffin
justin jackson
noah von leh

2 way players
JD Davison
Mfiondu Cabengele

Danilo Gallinari (ACL) out
Robert Williams III (knee) probable
Al Horford (staff) likely

Head coach (interim)
joe mazulla

Possible magical initiators

PG: Markelle Fultz
SG: Franz Wagner
CF: Paolo Banchero
PF: He was
C: Moritz Wagner

Magic Reserves
I’m bamba
rj hampton
caleb houston
cole antonio
terrence ross

2 way players
kevon harris
Admiral Schofield

Gary Harris (hamstring) out
Jonathan Isaac (knee) out
Wendell Carter, Jr (foot) out
Chuma Okeke (knee) out
Jalen Suggs (ankle) out

jamahl mosley

key pairings

Jaylen Brown vs. Paolo Banchero
Banchero was the #1 pick in this season’s draft and is a Rookie of the Year candidate. He is averaging 21.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. He is shooting 45.1% from the field and 25.6% from beyond the arc. This should be a fun matchup to watch.

Derrick White vs. Franz Wagner
Wagner is averaging 19.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists. He is shooting 49.3% from the field and 34.4% from beyond the arc. I’m guessing White will start at shooting guard, but it’s possible Mazzulla will start Grant Williams or go with the big double lineup with Robert Williams starting. In either case, Jaylen Brown will start at shooting guard.

Honorable Mention
Jayson Tatum vs. Bol Bol
Bol is averaging 12.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.8 blocks per game. He is shooting 60.4% from the field and 42.6% from beyond the arc. The Celtics could also start Grant Williams or Al Horford at power forward, depending on which direction Mazzulla decides to take.

game keys
Defending – I can’t say it enough, but defense is always the key to winning. If you look at the best teams in the league, they are always at the top of the league in defense. The Celtics have moved up to eighth in the league with a defensive rating of 111.1. The Magic are ranked 27th with a defensive rating of 114.8. Hopefully, the return of Robert Williams will lead to a more consistent defensive identity for the Celtics.

Rebound – The rebound is also crucial if a team wants to win games. You can’t score if you don’t have the ball and the best way to get the ball is to grab rebounds and give yourself extra possessions. Much of rebounding is effort and hustle, and if the Celtics go the extra mile to grab rebounds, they usually show effort in all parts of the game.

Play hard 48 minutes – We saw the Celtics come out strong against the lakers and build a 20-point lead, only to allow the Lakers to come back and take the lead. Fortunately, the Celtics were able to close out that game, but it would be much better not to concede in the first place. The Celtics need to come out strong and play hard until the final buzzer. The Celtics must avoid breaks and play hard for 48 minutes.

Don’t underestimate the magic – The Magic may only be 9-20, but they have won their last 4 games over some good teams: The Clippers, the Raptors twice and the Hawks. The Celtics can’t go into this game and assume they can win without trying 100% because the Magics can surprise them and win if they do.

home again – The Celtics are back at home after a long tour of 6 games. The first home game after a road trip is often difficult for teams because they relax a bit at home and feel too comfortable. Young teams often struggle on the road and the Magic are 1-11 on the road. That victory was in Chicago. The Celtics need to stay focused and not relax because they are back home. Protect the home field.

officiating – Refereeing can always be an X factor. In some games you don’t even notice the referees and in other games they seem to make the game all about them. Some crews say the game is tight and others let the teams play. Some crews favor one of the teams, while others call it fair. No matter what the game is called, the Celtics must adapt to what the game is called and not allow the referees to distract them. Complaining to the refs rarely does anything positive and often results in a technique or further calls against you.

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