The Celtics theme this season is ‘Reloaded’.
I guess that would make the Orlando Magic ‘revised and reloaded’. The team coming to Boston this evening for a rematch of last season’s playoffs has been the poster team for that.
The Orlando Magic and Boston have identical records at 9-3. The Magic are on a 3 game winning streak and in second place to the hot Atlanta Hawks in the Central Division.
The Celtics are still trying to find their rhythm on both ends of the court. Their record belies the fact that they are still working things out.
They are going through periods of lackluster play. Led by Paul Pierce’s 18.4 points, Rondo’s 9 assists and Kevin Garnett’s 7.3 rebounds, the Celtics are on target for a 60 win season. But if the playoffs started tomorrow, the Celtics would be a team with issues of inconsistency, and I am not really sure why.
Though remaining second best in points allowed, the Celtics are playing inexplicably pedestrian defense lately. They have work to do to be considered in the conversation for the best defensive team ever. The offense is lethargic at times as well.
As a team, they are getting to free throw line less often and are among the league’s worst (26th) in attempts this season. After struggling for a while with rebounding, the Cs are back to where they were last season in rebounding differential (2nd) with a healthy +4.5.
The Celtics are the second most accurate shooters in the NBA at 48.6%. They are the most accurate in the NBA from the three point line at 39.7%.
The Celtics play a methodical offensive pace (25th in the NBA), and only fast break when the opportunity really presents itself.
The Magic changed 2/5ths of their starting line up in the course of adding Vince Carter, Ryan Anderson, Brandon Bass, Matt Barnes, Jason Williams.
They gave up Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee and Tony Battie in trade with the Nets for VC and Ryan Anderson. Hedo Turkoglu signed as a free agent with the Raptors.
With PG Jameer Nelson out again with injury, unretired Jason Williams is getting the starting nod over Anthony Johnson.
SF Rashard Lewis is back and starting after his 10 game suspension. He almost had a triple double in the last game, against the OKC Thunder, with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists.
Orlando is led by Dwight Howard with 18.1 points and 10.7 rebounds. Vince Carter is second with 17.1 points. The surprise is 6’ 10” Ryan Anderson, viewed as a throw in on the Vince Carter trade. He is third on the Magic in scoring with 14.3 points. That will change with the returning Lewis getting some of Ryan’s minutes.
Like last season, the Magic are second in three point attempts and second in makes. They play an outside/in game. Carter is shooting a career high 43.8% from the three point line this season.
Kendrick Perkins raised his status around the league with his defense of Dwight Howard in the playoffs last season, while Howard was exposed for his rudimentary offensive game (read: no go to move).
This Magic team gives the Celtics more trouble than most any other team in the NBA and have a winning record against the Celtics since the Garnett trade to prove it.
This will be a good test for a Celtic team that apparently has trouble getting up for lesser teams. They better be up for this game or they will be adding another loss to their record.