Boston Celtics (22-5 SU, 12-15 ATS) vs. Orlando Magic (22-7 SU,
15-12-2 ATS), 2:30 p.m. EST, Friday, December 25, 2009, Amway Arena, Orlando,
Fla. TV: ABC
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Celtics +5/Magic -5
While many people may be spending Christmas down the road at Disney World,
the Celtics and Magic will be battling it out at Amway Arena for first place
in the Eastern Conference.
The Celtics currently own the top spot in the Eastern Conference, so a
win would keep them there. The Magic are currently No. 2 and only a game
back, so a win by them would create a tie for the top spot with the Celtics
Paul Pierce will not play in this game for the Celtics. He is out for two
weeks with a knee infection. Kevin Garnett did not play against the Pacers
on Tuesday because of a bruised thigh, but he is expected to play against
The Celtics have won 13 of their last 14 games, with a one-point loss to
the 76ers being the only thing standing in the way of a 14-game winning
streak. Without Pierce, other players will have to step up to replace his
offense, but luckily for the Celtics they have plenty of weapons. Ray Allen
is the second leading scorer on the team (behind Pierce) with 16 points
per game. He has scored at least 17 points in each of the last four games.
Garnett is averaging 15.3 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Both he and
Allen have scored in double figures in every game they’ve played in
this month. Kendrick Perkins is averaging 12.3 points and 8.0 rebounds per
game. Rajon Rondo is averaging 12.1 points, 9.7 assists and a league-leading
2.7 steals per game. Rasheed Wallace and Eddie House are both also capable
of lighting up the scoreboard for the Celtics.
The Magic have won their last three games, all at home, and five of their
last six overall. All five of those wins have come at home, where this game
will be played as well. The Magic have won six in a row at home and are
12-2 at home this season. The key for the Magic is Dwight Howard, who is
averaging 17.8 points and 13.1 rebounds per game, so it is important for
the Celtics that Garnett is in the lineup to help defend Howard down low.
The Magic surround Howard with a ton of shooters, including Vince Carter,
Rashard Lewis, Jameer Nelson, Ryan Anderson, Mickael Pietrus, Jason Williams
and J.J. Redick. The Celtics need Perkins and Garnett to stay out of foul
trouble and play solid one-on-one defense on Howard, so that the Celtics
don’t have to double-team him. When teams have to double-team Howard,
the Magic do a great job of moving the ball and finding the open shooter.
And most of the time, one of those terrific shooters will knock down the
open jumper. Lewis, Nelson, Anderson, Pietrus, Redick and Williams are each
shooting better than 38 percent from 3-point range. Carter is only shooting
33.1 percent from beyond the arc and 39.8 overall, but his leading the team
in scoring with 18.6 points per game.
In Christmas games since 2005, home teams are 9-2 SU and the total has
gone under in nine of the 11 games. A trend is a trend, but as for an explanation
for these two trends, teams playing on the road on Christmas may be less
motivated than home teams that can go home for the holiday right after the
game. And both teams may come out a bit flat offensively because of the
games being played on Christmas.
The Celtics are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games but 5-2 ATS in their
last seven road games. The Magic have won seven of their last 10 games against
the Celtics, including a 4-2 ATS in their last six games against Boston.
Ryno’s Pick: Both of these teams are playing very well and they know
this is a big game between two powerhouses in the Eastern Conference. Paul
Pierce is a big loss for the Celtics but they have enough weapons to overcome
his loss. The Magic are tough to beat at home and the Christmas trends show
that home teams have been dominant on this day. But five points is a lot
to cover against a team that has won 13 of its last 14 games. Both of these
teams are strong defensively and the loss of Pierce could limit the amount
of points the Celtics put up. And the Christmas trends show that the under
has been a strong play. Take the under of 189.5.