Boston Celtics +3.5 (54-18) at Orlando Magic (52-18) 8 PM ET Wednesday March 25, 2009 on ESPN
By Jason Green at Predictem.com
Tonight the Boston Celtics head south to the Sunshine State to play the Orlando Magic. This is a huge Eastern Conference game, as the Celtics are in 2nd place in the East and the Magic are in 3rd place in the East, but only trail the Celtics by one game. If they win tonight the two teams will be tied for 2nd with just over 10 games left in the regular season.
The Celtics have not had the easiest couple of weeks dealing with many injuries, but they recently got Kevin Garnett back and Boston needs him healthy if they are going to repeat as NBA champs. Both teams are playing well, as the Celtics have won 4 in a row and are 6-4 in their last 10 games and the Magic have won 3 in a row and are 8-2 in their last 10 games. The Celtics can really put a strangle hold on 2nd place in the East with a win tonight.
This season the Magic are 27-7 at home and the Celtics are 25-12 in away games.
Bookies have Orlando as 3.5-point favorites in this game with a total of 191.5. The Magic are posted at -145 as home favorites and the Celtics are posted at +125 as road dogs.
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The Celtics come into this game after beating the L.A. Clippers 90-77 on Monday night. The high scorer for the Celtics in that game was Ray Allen going for 20 points on 8/10 shooting including 3/3 from 3-point land. For the game the Celtics shot 35/73 for a FG% of 47.9%. On D the Celtics allowed the Clippers to shoot 31/71 for a FG% of 43.7%.
The Magic come into this game after beating the New York Knicks 106-102 on Monday night. The high scorer for the Magic in that game was Dwight Howard going for 29 points on 12/18 shooting including grabbing 14 boards. For the game the Magic shot 33/74 for a FG% of 44.6%. On D the Magic allowed the Knicks to shoot 36/87 for a FG% of 41.4%.
This season the Magic rank 8th in scoring (102.3 ppg) and the Celtics rank 11th (101 ppg). On D both of these teams are legit, as the Celtics rank 3rd in points allowed (92.8 ppg) and the Magic rank 8th (95 ppg). The Celtics are the best rebounding team in the league this season, as they have a rebounding differential of +5 rpg, while the Magic are at +1.5 rpg.
This season the Celtics are 35-36-1 ATS and those betting on the Magic are happy, and richer, campers, as they are an NBA best 44-25-1. In terms of Over/Under games the Celtics are 34-37-1 this season and the Magic are 32-37-1.
On the injury front SG Ray Allen and PF Kevin Garnett are day-to-day for the Celtics and the Magic are not reporting any significant injuries.
Getting Kevin Garnett (16 ppg) back from injury is huge, as the Celtics struggled without their defensive anchor. KG will need to team up with C Kendrick Perkins in order to try to contain Dwight Howard (21 ppg), who leads the league in rebounds (13.9 rpg) and blocks (3 per game).
Even though the Magic have Howard the Celtics are the best team on the glass this season and if the Magic allow Boston too many 2nd chance opportunities they will lose.
The key to this game may be which team can drain the long ball, as both teams are shooting 39% from downtown.
The PG match up is also key in this game, as Rajon Rondo (11.9 ppg 8.5 assists per game) is now healthy and will need to score some points and dish out well tonight for the Celtics to be successful. Rafer Alston (11.7 ppg) has fit in well for the Magic since coming over from Houston and he will have to play good D on Randon and not let him penetrate into the lane.
If the Celtics can play good perimeter D and keep Howard from dominating the lane they will win tonight.
Jason’s Pick: I like the Magic to win and cover here.