Orlando Magic vs. Boston Celtics Preview and Pick

Orlando Magic +8.5 (16-2) at Boston Celtics -8.5 (13-4) O/U 189 7:30 PM ET Monday December 1, 2008 on NBA TV
By Jason Green at Predictem.com

Tonight the Orlando Magic travel to Boston to play the Celtics. These are 2 teams that are in 1st place in their respective divisions, as the Celtics lead the Atlantic Division and the Magic are in 1st place in the Southwest Division. Even though the season is still young this may be a playoff preview up and maybe even an Eastern Conference finals preview if both teams keep playing like they are.

A streak will end tonight, as the Magic have won 4 straight games and the Celtics have won 8 straight.


This season the Celtics are 9-1 at home and the Magic are legit away from the Sunshine State, as they are 6-1 on the road.

Basketball bookies have the Celtics as 8.5-point favorites with a total around 189. The Celtics are posted at -450 as home dogs and the Magic are posted at +325 as away dogs.

The Magic come into this game after beating the Indiana Pacers 110-96 on Saturday night. The high scorer in that game was Dwight Howard going for 32 points on 11/15 shooting and grabbing 21 boards. For the game the Magic were hot from the field shooting 38-75 for a FG% of 50.7%. On defense the Magic held the Pacers to 40-93 from the field for a FG% of 43%.

The Celtics come into this game after beating the Charlotte Bobcats 89-84 on Saturday night. The high scorer for the Celtics in that game was Paul Pierce going for 19 points on 6/14 shooting. For the game the Celtics shot 32/73 for a FG% of 43.8%. On defense the Celtics allowed the Bobcats to shoot 32/67 for a FG% of 47.8%.

The Magic rank 8th on the league in scoring (100.4 ppg) and the Celtics rank 14th (98.2). Both these teams are shooting well, especially the Celtics who have a FG% of over 46%. The reason the Celtics are on fire is because of their defense, as they rank 1st in the NBA in points allowed (90.1 ppg), while the Magic aren’t too shabby on D ranking 10th (94.2). The Celtics are only allowing opponents to shoot just over 40% from the field. Boston is also a better team on the glass, as they have a rebounding differential of +2.8 rpg, while Orlando is only at -0.8 rpg.

This season the Celtics are 10-6 ATS and the Magic are 9-7-1. In terms of Over/Under games the Celtics are 10-13 this season and the Magic are 10-8-1.

On the injury front both SG Mickael Pietrus and PG Jameer Nelson are Out while the Celtics are not reporting any significant injuries.

This game features the Big 3 of the Celtics and the dominating Dwight Howard of the Magic, who ranks 1st in the league in rebounds, 1st in blocks, and 3rd in FG%. Howard was an absolute beast in the Magic’s win over the Pacers on Saturday night with 32 points and 21 boards.

Celtics C Kendrick Perkins (7.1 ppg 7.6 rpg) will have his hands full trying to defend Howard.

One of the keys to this game is if the Magic can hit the outside J. They have great outside shooters and if they are raining from outside it will open up the lane for Howard to work his magic.

If the game is close the Celtics may look to foul Howard, who is only shooting a FT% of 57.3%.

The Celtics have a big advantage in this game, as the Magic are without starting PG Jameer Nelson and they will have a hard time stopping the penetration of Celtics PG Rajon Rondo (9.5 ppg 6.9 assists per game). If Rondo penetrates the Magic D will collapse and he can dish it out to Pierce and Ray Allen. If those guys are left alone on the outside they will kill the Magic.

The Magic have to play good perimeter D and keep the Celtics from draining the 3.

It will not be easy for the Magic tonight, as they are playing the hottest team in the league with the best defense in the league AND they are without 2 starters.

Jason’s Pick: Lay the points with the Celtics as they probably win by double digits tonight.