Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic Game 3 Preview and Pick

Boston Celtics +4.5 at Orlando Magic -4.5 O/U 189 7 PM ET Friday May 8, 2009 on ESPN

By Jason Green at

This series is tied 1-1.

Tonight the Boston Celtics play the Orlando Magic in the Sunshine State in game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. In game 2 Eddie House came off the bench to blow up for 31 points in giving the Celtics a huge lift. They really needed it, as Paul Pierce only scored 3 points in game 2. In that game the Celtics were on fire on offense shooting over 51% from the floor and Rajon Rondo had a triple double. The Celtics played great defense in game 2, especially on Dwight Howard who only had 12 points. The Celtics totally dominated game 2, as they had more rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, and fewer turnovers.

No Magic player had more than 17 points in game 2 and only J.J. Reddick shot over 50% from the floor. The Magic starters and Howard have to play better tonight or they will give the Celtics back the home court advantage in this series. Both teams shot over 42% from beyond the 3-pt arc, but that did not help the Magic since Dwight Howard had a poor game in the paint.

Most bookies have the Magic as 4.5 favorites in this game with a total of 189. The Magic are posted at -220 as home favorites and the Celtics are posted at +180 as road dogs.

The Celtics beat the Magic 112-94 in game 2 on Wednesday night. The high scorer for the Celtics in that game was Eddie House coming off the bench to score 31 points on 11/14 shooting. For the game the Celtics were on fire from the floor shooting 41/80 or a FG% of 51.3%. The High scorers for the Magic in game 2 were Rashard Lewis and Mickael Pietrus who both went for 17 points. For the game the Magic shot 31/70 for a FG% of 44.3%.

This season the Celtics ranked 11th in scoring (100.9 ppg) and the Magic ranked 4th (101 ppg). On defense the Celtics ranked 3rd in points allowed (93.4 ppg) and the Magic ranked 6th (94.4 ppg). This season the Celtics had a rebounding differential of +4.5 rpg and the Magic were at +1.1 rpg.

This season the Magic were an NBA best 49-32-1 ATS and the Celtics were 42-39-1. In terms of Over/Under games this season the Magic were 36-45-1 and the Celtics were 41-40-1.

On the injury front Leon Powe is Out for the Celtics and Courtney Lee is Out for the Magic.

Magic PG Rafer Alston was suspended for tonight’s game and since Jameer Nelson is out for the year the Magic hope backup Anthony Johnson and Tyronn Lue can do the job. They have to play good D on Rajon Rondo, who was dominant in game 2. Rondo had 18 assists in game 2 and was great finding his teammates.

The Magic have to hold onto the rock better tonight, as in game 2 they had 13 turnovers.

The Magic have lost games in the playoffs with other teams being more physical. Celtics coach Doc Rivers said they will go at Howard and it seemed to work in game 2, as the Celtics were more physical and won the game. The Magic have to step up and not allow the Celtics to push them around.

Paul Pierce will have to bounce back from his bad game 2, as the Celtics can’t count on Eddie House to come off the bench and score 31 points every game.

Glen Davis and Kendrick Perkins combined to play good defense on Howard and they also were solid on the offensive end, as they combined for 29 points on solid 11/15 shooting. Perkins was especially solid going for 16 points and grabbing 9 boards.

The Magic have to shoot better from the charity stripe tonight, as in game 2 they were only 24/37 from the line for a FT% of 64.9%.

Howard has to have a better game tonight, as the most dominant big man in the game today only had 12 points on 5/13 shooting in game 2.

Jason’s Pick: I like Orlando to win and cover at home tonight.