Orlando Magic vs. Boston Celtics Game 1 Preview and Pick

Orlando Magic +3 at Boston Celtics -3 O/U 189 8 PM ET Monday May 4, 2009 on TNT
By Jason Green at Predictem.com

Tonight the Orlando Magic head north to Boston to play the defending champion Celtics in the first game of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Well, it took 7 games and three OT games, but the Celtics beat the Bulls in the first round, while it took the Magic a surprising 6 games to oust Philadelphia. The Celtics beat the Bulls in one of the best series’ of all time and they really missed having Kevin Garnett in the lineup. Luckily for Boston the Bulls did not have much inside presence, but their luck has run out, as the Magic are stacked inside with Superman Dwight Howard. The Celtics will really need to step up on D and shoot the rock well in order to beat the Magic in this series.

The main reason the Magic lost 2 games because nobody really helped Howard out on offense, but in game 6 of their series with Philly, Howard was suspended and the Magic really responded by dropping 114 points on the 76ers without the man of steel in the lineup. Losing Howard for that game may be a blessing in disguise, as their offense may have woken up.

This season the Celtics were 35-6 at home and the Magic were 27-14 in away games.

Hoops bookies have the Celtics as 3-point favorites in this game with a total around 189. The Celtics posted at -130 as home favorites and the Magic posted at +110 as road dogs.

The Celtics come into this game after beating the Chicago Bulls in game 7 of their first round series 109-99 on Saturday night. The high scorer for the Celtics in that game was Ray Allen going for 23 points on 6/14 shooting. For the game the Celtics shot 35/78 for a FG% of 44.9%. On D the Celtics clamped down holding the 76ers to 30/77 shooting for a FG% of 39%.

The Magic come into this game after beating the Philadelphia 76ers in game 6 of their opening round series 114-89 on Thursday night. The high scorer for the Magic in that game was Rashard Lewis going for 29 points on 11/22 shooting. For the game the Magic were shooting lights out going 44/82 from the floor for a FG% of 53.7%. On D the Magic held the 76ers to 31/76 shooting for a FG% of 40.8%.

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 PG Rajon Rondo is day to day for the Celtics and SG Courtney Lee is Out for the Magic.

Since KG is out of the lineup Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis have to step up and keep Howard off the boards and keep him from dominating on offense. Howard was a monster in the first round averaging 24 ppg 15.8 rpg and 2.8 blocks per game.

Perkins and Davis also have to play well on offense and they did that last series averaging just over 31 points combined.

Rafer Alston will have to play good defense on Rajon Rondo, who almost averaged a triple double in the first round against the Bulls.

Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis played much better on offense in the last 2 games of the Philly series and they will need to score tonight, and all series long, so the Celtics do not pack the lane on defense.

Ray Allen was up and down in the series, but in the games that he had big scoring games the Celtics won. In the first round series Allen averaged 23.4 ppg and he has to have a good scoring series against the Magic.

If the game is close the Magic cannot let Paul Pierce (23.1 ppg in playoffs) take the big shot, as the Truth will make those shots, as he showed in the first round and in last year’s playoffs.

Jason’s Pick: The line is dropping towards Orlando but we disagree with the move. We think the Celtics defend the homecourt and cover easily vs. Orlando who lacks the guard play to beat Boston on their own court.