Orlando Magic (9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS) vs. Boston Celtics (9-3 SU, 5-7 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, Friday, November 20, 2009, TD Garden, Boston, Mass. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Magic +7/Celtics -7
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Two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference meet for conference supremacy on Friday night, as the Boston Celtics host the Orlando Magic.
The Magic and the Celtics are the last two teams to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. Of course, the Magic lost to the Lakers last season and the Celtics beat the Lakers in the NBA Finals the year before.
Both teams are 9-3 on the season. The Celtics’ three losses are to the Hawks, Pacers and Suns, while the Magic’s three losses are to the Cavaliers, Pistons and Thunder.
The Magic haven’t really been playing all that well lately. In their last six games, they lost to the Thunder by 28, lost to the Cavs by nine, and have wins over the Bobcats twice, the Nets and the Thunder. The Celtics haven’t playing great lately either, having lost two of their last three games to the Hawks and the Pacers. They won their last game 109-95 over the Warriors.
Dwight Howard leads the Magic in scoring and rebounding with 18.1 ppg and 10.7 rpg. Vince Carter is the team’s second leading scorer with 17.1 per game. Ryan Anderson has been a pleasant surprise for the Magic, essentially replacing Hedo Turkoglu as a versatile forward. Anderson is averaging 14.3 points per game and is shooting 41.7 percent from beyond the arc. Rashard Lewis returned from his 10-game suspension and is averaging 13.5 points per game in two games. He is just 2-of-12 from beyond the arc thus far, but he did have 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists against the Thunder. Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus are each scoring in double figures as well. Brandon Bass and Matt Barnes are each scoring about nine points per game.
Like the Magic, the Celtics are getting very balanced scoring. Paul Pierce is leading the team in scoring with 18.4 points per game. Ray Allen is next with 13.5 ppg, followed by Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace, who are all around 10 points per game. Off the bench, Marquis Daniels, Eddie House and Shelden Williams are each scoring a little more than six points per game.
The Magic are a tough team to defend because of their versatile forwards, but the Celtics can match up well with them. Anderson and Lewis can post up down low, handle the ball out front and drive to the hoop, or they can fill it up from beyond the 3-point line. The Celtics will be able to defend them well because Garnett and Wallace are very athletic and versatile themselves. When Pietrus is on the floor, it will make it easier for the Celtics because he is not a very dangerous scorer. He can score around the rim and knock down open jumpers, but Pierce and Allen should have no problem defending him. Pierce will likely be guarding Carter for most of the game, and locking him down could be a key to victory. Howard is the man for the Magic and is certainly one of the best big men in the league. Perkins has the size and strength to at least contain Howard, and when he’s not in the game Garnett has the length and quickness to stay with Howard. Rajon Rondo, who is averaging nine assists per game, will have a couple inches over Nelson.
The Magic are 6-3 in their last nine games against the Celtics. The total has gone under in four of the last five games between these two teams. The Magic are 4-2 ATS in their last six road games. The total has gone under in six of their last seven road games.
Ryno’s Pick: These teams match up very well with each other. It’s going to come down to which team is shooting their jumpers better and whether or not any key players get into foul trouble. At home, the Celtics should be able to win this game because they match up so well and should be able to contain Howard, Carter and Lewis. But it’s likely to be a close game throughout, so covering the seven points could be tough. Because these teams are so evenly matched and the game will be so competitive due to the fact that it’s arguably the two top teams in the Eastern Conference, combined with the under trends and how poorly both teams have been playing in the last week or so, it’s bound to be a low-scoring defensive battle. Take the under of 190.5.