Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic
Time: 5:05 PM CT (NBA TV)
Spread: BOS -4
Betting odds c/o Pincle
The Orlando Magic have won just one game in 2016, while having lost the other 12. The most recent came at the hands of tonight’s opponent, as the teams will meet in a (somewhat) rare 2-game regular season series. The visiting Celtics are 4-point favorites for the game which will air at 5 PM Central on NBA TV.
The Boston Celtics did it with their depth against the Magic on Friday night. Boston’s bench scored 62 points, while Orlando’s managed just 35 helping tilt the blowout heavily in Boston’s favor. The Magic were a step slow in rotations the entire night, which was a contributing factor in the Celtics’ 50 percent field goal percentage as well as its 10 of 24 three-point shooting.
The Celtics have now won four straight games, and over its last 11 games is averaging 112 points per game, second only to Oklahoma City over that span. The Celtics have been forcing turnovers, too, averaging 13.8 steals over its prior four games to Friday night.
Boston point guard Isaiah Thomas made his first All-Star team this season in being selected by the coaches as a reserve. It is deserving. Thomas has averaged 21.5 points, 6.7 assists and 2.9 rebounds in 32 minutes a night this year while being the only Celtic to post a PER above 20 (21.5). Thomas had just 14 in the win Friday night, but Brad Stevens was sharing the wealth more in using his rotation to keep fresh bodies on the floor all night.
So what can Orlando do to stop that? The Magic are 12-11 at home this season, but now are mired in an eight-game losing streak that seems to see no end. The Magic’s next eight opponents following tonight’s game are all playoff teams. Orlando really may be just seeing the beginning of a streak that could be of immense ugliness by the time it concludes.
The Magic have been getting fairly hollow numbers from Nikola Vucevic, in light of just how poor his defense has been. He was fairly frustrated and said at halftime of the loss to Boston that he could not do much more without perimeter defenders doing their jobs. That is a pointed statement of frustration reflective on both Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton. Might not the Magic have an inter-team rift that is only now beginning to show?
The Magic may be players in the trade market as the Feb 18 trade deadline approaches. Evan Fournier is on an expiring contract, and the Magic may not want to pay him. He rejected a $10 million extension offer earlier this season, and it may be that he is worth $12 to $14 million.
If that is the case, the Magic would be left to choose between he and Victor Oladipo. Teams cannot afford to re-sign everyone, and Oladipo at least is the most athletic playmaker on the roster. The issue is that Fournier is one of just two long-distance threats for the Magic (the other being Channing Frye).
Orlando cannot just surrender one of its most effective shooters without facing some issues. The court spacing has been poor, and neither Payton nor Oladipo can consistently create offense when teams are packing the paint. Payton is dared to shoot, and Oladipo is only really a threat when he is hot (very streaky shooter). Where does it leave the Magic? Likely out of the playoffs, is the answer to that.
As for Boston, it won 45 games a year ago and should finish about the same this season. The Celtics, though, sport a top-defense and are now scoring buckets. That makes Boston a very dangerous draw for any teams in the East.