The Orlando Magic conclude their five-game road trip with a visit to TD Garden to face the Boston Celtics, where their 2009/10 season ended last May. In response to that defeat, Orlando signed Quentin Richardson and Chris Duhon to space the floor and get improved point-guard play, respectively, two weaknesses the Celtics exploited in that Eastern Conference Finals win, but neither move really worked out.
Both players now find themselves on the outside of the playing rotation looking in, as Orlando's addressed both issues with trades acquiring Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, and Gilbert Arenas. That trio combined for 26 points on 10-of-27 shooting on Christmas Day against Boston, as Brandon Bass' 21 points and Jameer Nelson's key playmaking in the fourth quarter helped Orlando pull out the come-from-behind win.
Of course, Boston didn't have All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo in that contest, pressing Nate Robinson into extended duty; he responded by missing 13 of his 15 shot attempts. Indeed, Orlando faces a different Celtics squad today. Rondo's presence changes the entire dynamic of the offense, freeing Ray Allen and Paul Pierce to work away from the ball instead of having to help Robinson with the distributing chores.
Orlando's different as well. Bass' disquieting shooting slump has to call his reliability into question today; the Celtics will happily concede 18-footers to him, no matter how open, given the quality of his teammates and his iffy shooting stroke of late.
A lot of responsibility falls on Nelson today. He demonstrated in the Magic's two Eastern Conference Finals wins he can be a difference-maker against Rondo and the Celtics so long as he remains aggressive in his drives to the basket. If he picks up his dribble 22 feet away too often, it'll be a sign that the Magic's offense is in real trouble.
|2010/2011 NBA Season|
|26-14 (11-9 road)
|30-9 (18-3 home)
|January 17th, 2011|
|Jameer Nelson||PG||Rajon Rondo|
|Jason Richardson||SG||Ray Allen|
|Hedo Turkoglu||SF||Paul Pierce|
|Brandon Bass||PF||Kevin Garnett|
|Dwight Howard||C||Shaquille O'Neal|
|December 25th: Magic 86, Celtics 78|
|2010/11 Advanced Stats|
|92.2 (T-17th)||Pace||90.8 (21st)|
|107.7 (12th)||ORtg||108.8 (10th)|
|102.0 (3rd)||DRtg||100.5 (2nd)|