The Celtics’ three game road trip continues with a visit to Orlando on Sunday. Boston (25-35) is coming off a 104-98 win over the Pelicans on Friday, in which Isaiah Thomas scored 27 points, including 14 in the final quarter. It was a great all around team effort for the Celtics. Boston went into Saturday 1 ½ games out of eighth place in the East.
Orlando (20-43) beat the Kings 119-114 on Friday, led by the red-hot Victor Oladipo who had 32 points, 10 assists and five steals. Channing Frye added 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Magic rookie PG Elfrid Payton notched his fifth double-double (10 points, 12 assists) on Friday and second in the last seven games.
Oladipo, the 2nd overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft has been a shining star for the struggling Magic. Averaging 17.5 ppg on the season, yet 30 ppg over the last 3 games. Orlando moved Oladipo to the 2 guard position after struggles last year at the 1. So far, so good, as many see him as more of a shooting guard, his natural position.
“It’s required some minor adjustments and some adjustments on picking my spots in how people defend me,” Oladipo told the Orlando Sentinel. “But at the end of the day, playing the point position helped open up a lot of stuff for me and helped me see things and helped me in case I’m in a situation where I am handling the ball. It helps me make better plays and better decisions.”
Oladipo, however has not had much success against Boston –his 25% career shooting mark against Boston is his worst against any opponent. He totaled 15 points on 5-of-27 shooting as the Magic split two December meetings with the Celtics.
This is certainly a new look Celtics team that Orlando will face; Boston had players such as Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo available back in December. Sullinger and Bradley are injured while the other two have been traded. New faces include the exciting Isaiah Thomas and big man Jonas Jerebko.
Nik Vucevic and Tobias Harris each averaged 18.0 points in those meetings for the Magic, though Vucevic’s status is in doubt after he sat out Friday with a sore left ankle.
The Celtics will be without Avery Bradley, who according to coach Brad Stevens had a badly sprained elbow. Stevens noted that Bradley will probably miss the Celtics entire three game road trip which concludes with a game against the Heat in Miami on Monday. Jae Crowder started in Bradley’s absence against the Pelicans on Friday and finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and four steals.
The Celtics are rolling, and good to see how they were able to bounce back and put together two wins following that awful 110-79 loss in Cleveland. Orlando has some good young players, and the loss of Bradley hurts, but I don’t see any reason why Boston shouldn’t continue their winning ways. Boston isn’t a great road team, but Orlando is equally bad at home. I like the Celtics to win in a close game.
Prediction: Celtics 99, Orlando 93
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