Boston Celtics @ Orlando Magic

Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

The Magic are now 12-5 (6-2 at home) after defeating the Indiana Pacers Tuesday night. They’ll try to push their win total to 13 when they host the Boston Celtics Thursday night. The Celtics come in with a record of 7-9 (2-4 on the road).

These two teams played Monday night in Boston. The Celtics dominated the game defensively en route to an 87-56 victory.

The Magic are 10th in offensive rating (105.2), 12th in defensive rating (100.7) and play at the 25th-fastest pace (89.6). Boston is 20th in offense (100.4), fifth in defense (99.1) and play at the 27th-fastest pace (89.1).

Tip-off from the Amway Center is scheduled for 8:00 pm EST. The game will be shown nationally by TNT. There is no local coverage.

As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen on the radio – in English on AM 580 WDBO and FM 96.5  and in Spanish on AM 1270 WRLZ.

The officials for tonight’s game are Michael Smith, Nick Buchert and David Jones.

The Line: Orlando – 8.5 (176u)

Starters:

Boston Celtics

Kevin Garnett*
Brandon Bass
Paul Pierce
Mickael Pietrus**
Avery Bradley***

Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard
Ryan Anderson
Hedo Turkoglu
Jason Richardson
Jameer Nelson

*Starting Center Jermaine O’Neal is listed as doubtful with a knee injury.

**Ray Allen is unlikely to play due to his ankle injury.

***Rajon Rondo (wrist) practiced Wednesday, but is still in a lot of pain. Bradley is likely to start.

In other injury news, former Magic wing Mickael Pietrus (shoulder) will return from his injury and start.

This should be another slow-paced game – both teams rank in the bottom six in pace. That was the case in Boston’s thrashing of Orlando Monday.

You’d have to think the Magic want to make up for their terrible performance Monday and will be looking for a measure of revenge.

Fatigue won’t be a problem for Boston – they haven’t played since Monday and headed right to Orlando after the game.

In Monday’s game, Celtics guard Avery Bradley pressured Jameer Nelson in the back court and Nelson really couldn’t handle it. The pressure created several turnovers and really let the game get out of hand for the Magic.  The Magic will probably have Hedo Turkoglu and possibly J.J. Redick handle the ball more often Thursday.

After a strong first quarter, Dwight Howard couldn’t get much of anything going Monday. Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O’Neal and the other Celtics bigs did a decent job on him, but Howard can and should still exploit Boston’s veteran front line. O’Neal is expected to miss the game with a knee injury, matching Howard up with Greg Stiemsma. In Stiemsma’s only start this year, a win over the Washington Wizards on January 2, he scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

Former Magic forward Brandon Bass went off Monday – Glen Davis and Ryan Anderson have to do a better job on him. Davis had a video honoring him shown early in Monday’s game and may have been a little nervous or over-anxious. I’d expect a better game out of “Big Baby” Thursday. Davis scored 13 points on just six shot attempts in Tuesday’s win over the Pacers, his most efficient performance of the season. Anderson also bounced back with a team-high 24 points Tuesday after he was held scoreless Monday night. Bass can certainly be a difficult cover, so Orlando’s power forwards need to make him (and Garnett for that matter) work a lot harder defensively than they did Monday.

Celtics Resources:

Boston Globe
Boston Herald
Celtics Blog
Celtics Hub
Celtics Town
ESPN Boston
Hardwood Houdini
Red’s Army

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him onTwitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)

Topics: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Chris Duhon, Dwight Howard, Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, J.j. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Jermaine O’neal, Kevin Garnett, Larry Hughes, Mickael Pietrus, Orlando Magic, Otis Smith, Paul Pierce, Pavlovic, Quentin Richardson, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Ryan Anderson, Stan Van Gundy, Von Wafer

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