The storied Boston Celtics come to central Florida tonight to take on the Dwight Howard-led Orlando Magic. Coach Doc Rivers’ green & white squad stands at 7-9 at the approximate quarter mark of this condensed NBA season. The veteran group, winners of the 2008 NBA title, has suffered through a five-game losing streak and whispers around the league that it may be time for GM Danny Ainge to dismantle his Hall of Fame core of 14th-year captain Paul Pierce, 16th-year shooting guard Ray Allen and 17th-year forward Kevin Garnett.
However, the Beantown Ballers have won three of their last four contests, including Monday’s obliteration of the Magic in Massachusetts by the remarkable score of 87-56. The 56 points and 24.6% field goal percentage that Orlando managed three nights ago represent franchise-record lows in both categories. The Celtics accomplished this 48-minute defensive coup without starters Ray Allen (left ankle) and Rajon Rondo (right wrist), who will both miss tonight’s rematch.
This game marks the return of 7th-year forward Brandon Bass to O-Town. Bass was traded to Boston in the offseason for fellow LSU Tiger Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis and guard Von Wafer. So far this season Bass (who ranks fifth in court time on the roster with 28.3 minutes per game) has been a productive contributor off the C’s bench with 11.9 ppg and 6.5 rpg. Bass played 34 minutes and had 19 points and 8 boards against his old team on Monday.
Coach Stan Van Gundy’s guys last played on Tuesday night at Indiana and came away victorious, 102-83. In the win, All-World center Dwight Howard became the Magic’s all-time leading scorer, passing Nick Anderson who played for Orlando from 1989-1999. Superman has scored 10,657 points in his career.
The 26-year-old, 8th-year superstar Howard has been prognostication and prediction topic numero uno ever since he asked for a trade prior to the start of the season. Despite the added stress of the swelling relocation rumors surrounding their First-Team All-NBA big man (who can opt out of his current deal with Orlando when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer), the Magic sit only a half game behind the Heat in the Southeast Division at 12-5.
Marv and I will have courtside seats to the O-Town showdown when TNT presents live coverage of the Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic tonight at 8:00 PM EST.