|Preview: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic||11.30.08 at 10:01 pm ET|
On Monday night the Boston Celtics (16-2) will take on the Orlando Magic (13-4) at the TD BankNorth Garden. The presence of Dwight Howard makes the Magic an Eastern Conference contender but, despite successful regular season records, Superman hasn’t been able to carry his team to the Eastern Conference Finals. After last season, the road to the championship goes through Boston and the Magic surely know it. Monday’s game could be a preview of a future postseason battle.
In the Last Five Games ‘¦
The Celtics enter this game on an eight-game winning streak while the Magic have won their last four. Both teams have been running up the scoreboard in the last five games. The Celtics have averaged 104.6 points while winning by an average 13.8 points; the Magic have averaging 102.8 ppg while winning by a less impressive 6.6 ppg. They have been nearly identical on the glass. Even though Howard leads the league in blocks, the Celtics have the slight advantage as of late. The Cs have also held their opponents to less than 18 assists per game, a troubling stat for the Magic who have been playing without point guard Jameer Nelson.
Dwight Howard looks to bring his show-stopping antics to Boston and dominate his way through the paint. Howard (21.8 ppg, 13.9 rpg, 3.9 bpg) will be a challenging match up for the foul-prone Kendrick Perkins. The only silver lining for the Celtics is Howard’s inconsistency at the free throw line (57.3% FT). He shot 21-42 in three games against the Cs last season.
All Banged Up
While this game could be a playoff preview, it will be without a handful of key players. The Magic’s Jameer Nelson (hip), Mickael Pietrus (thumb), and Keith Bogans (thumb) suffered early-season injuries. This leaves holes at the point guard spot, on the wing, and on the bench. The Celtics should expect to see more of shooting guards J.J. Redick and Courtney Lee. Veteran PG Anthony Johnson has been starting in place of Nelson and will try to contain the streaking Rajon Rondo. These injuries are depleting the Magic reserves and creating a daunting task to stop the Celtics deep bench.
In the past five games the Magic have held their opponents to a staggering 28% from three-point range. Their biggest challenge will be stopping Ray Allen, who is shooting 56% from downtown during that same stretch. On the contrary, Paul Pierce is shooting just 15.4%. Ironically Allen’s former teammate, forward Rashard Lewis, has the hot hand for the Magic (47.2% 3PG last five games). There’s also no telling if one time NCAA-phenom J.J. Redick will find his groove.
Check in with the WEEI Celtics Game Day Blog for all the latest from the Celtics-Magic match up.
|Moon Eyes Return to Dunk Contest||11.23.08 at 12:36 pm ET|
On Sunday Jamario Moon’s biggest concern is taking on he Boston Celtics. And while he is focused on each game at hand, the Toronto Raptors high-flyer can’t help but think ahead to February. That’s when Moon would like to redeem himself in the Slam Dunk Contest.
‘It was big to be on the stage with a lot of the greats like (Michael) Jordan and Dominique (Wilkins). So to be able to be part of that, man, it was something big,’ Moon said on a recent trip through Boston. ‘I would love to go back, love to go back because I feel like I’ve got something to prove.’
This past February Moon finished third behind Dwight Howard and Gerald Green during All-Star Weekend in New Orleans. He entered the contest as an underdog but later realized he was his biggest competition.
‘I just don’t feel like I gave it my all,’ he said. ‘I don’t know, I don’t know. I wasn’t nervous at all. I think I was holding back. I was trying to save my best for last when I should have just brought the best out and made it better at the end.’
Just as defending champ Howard did after losing in the 2007 Dunk Contest, Moon is already planning a comeback. He would like to return to the contest another year wiser.
‘Already, already,’ Moon said of drawing up new dunks. ‘You know what, I learned something about it. It’s really not too much about the dunk as it is the dramatics of it and what leads up to it. I learned a lot from it so if I go back, I know what to expect.’
The 2009 Slam Dunk Contest will be held during All-Star Weekend, February 13-15 in Phoenix, Arizona.