Battered Celtics Good Candidates to Disappear at Magic?

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, March 15, 2018 5:29 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 15, 2018 5:29 PM UTC

The Boston Celtics are as banged up as any team in the NBA right now as they visit the terrible Orlando Magic on Friday in the teams’ final meeting of the season.

Boston (46-22, 41-25-2 ATS) at Orlando (21-48, 33-35-1 ATS)Free NBA Pick: MagicBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Six games on Friday’s NBA schedule, and the first to tip off is Celtics at Magic at 7 p.m. ET. It’s the final meeting of the season between these injury-ravaged clubs.

Boston easily won the first two vs. Orlando this season, 104-88 in central Florida on Nov. 5 (back when the Magic were actually playing well) and 118-103 at home on Nov. 24. However, on Jan. 21 the Magic were 10.5-point road underdogs and stunned the Celtics 103-95 to end a 14-game losing streak in Boston (dating to Feb. 7, 2010). Trailing 59-58 at intermission, Orlando outscored the Celtics 32-12 in the third quarter while shooting 60 percent in it.

Kyrie Irving is averaging 27.0 points in the three games for the Celtics. You won’t see him Friday. Jaylen Brown is putting up 16.0 points and 5.3 rebounds against Orlando – won’t see him, either. The Magic’s Elfrid Payton is averaging a team-high 17 points against Boston, but he won’t be there Friday. Aaron Gordon is averaging 13.3 ppg and 10.7 rebounds. Nope, he likely won’t be playing, either. Noticing a trend here?

Orlando has lost six of the last seven meetings against Boston overall but has split the past 14 at home. The home team is 13-4 ATS in the past 17.

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M*A*S*H Report

Frankly, neither of these teams have much to play for. It’s now clear that Boston isn’t going to catch Toronto for the East’s top seed and that the Celtics are locked into the No. 2 seed. Bettors still have reason to care as Boston was given a preseason win total of 53.5 on the NBA futures. The ‘over’ looked like a lock not long ago, but it’s far from a sure thing now. Orlando, meanwhile, will be headed to the draft lottery for a sixth straight season – every loss helps -- and these might be the final few weeks as Magic head coach for Frank Vogel.

It might be easier for this game to tell you which players will be on the court rather than those who won’t be. Boston is absolutely decimated by injuries/illness. For sure out here are the All-Star Irving (knee), Marcus Smart (thumb), Brown (concussion) and reserve Daniel Theis (knee). I’d like to tell you when those guys will be back, but the Celtics aren’t even sure. Theis is done for the season, and Smart might be. Brown won’t be back this week. Irving perhaps could be Sunday. Meanwhile, All-Star Al Horford has missed the past two with an illness but expects to return.

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We saw a rollercoaster game between the Celtics and Wizards. Hear what the team had to say after falling by one point. pic.twitter.com/NYHzbwpYsC

— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 15, 2018
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Not surprisingly so short-handed, Boston has lost two straight. The last thing this team needed was to play double overtime Wednesday but that happened as the C’s blew a 20-point lead and lost 125-124 at home to the Wizards. I watched that game, and you could just see exhaustion on the Boston guys at the end. Terry Rozier played 48 minutes, Jayson Tatum 46 (he missed an open 3 at the end of double OT) and Marcus Morris 44. Guys like Guerschon Yabusele, a rookie G League call-up, and Aron Baynes had to start because of all the injuries.

The Magic aren’t close to full strength, either, as starters Gordon (concussion) and Evan Fournier (knee) have each missed the past four games. Doubtful either plays here. Orlando won for just the third time in 15 games Wednesday, upsetting the visiting Bucks 126-117 a night after losing by 36 in San Antonio. Jonathan Simmons had a career-high 35 and D.J. Augustin a season-high 32.

Simmons is only starting because of Gordon’s injury, and Augustin has been since Payton was traded to Phoenix. The Magic shot 50.6 percent from the floor and were 18-for-34 from deep vs. the Bucks, a franchise record for made 3-pointers at a home game. The Magic had averaged 90.4 points on 41.2 percent shooting over the previous five games, all losses.

So, which is the lesser of two evils here? I doubt the Celtics have much left in the tank from Wednesday’s gut-punching loss. The Magic, meanwhile, have won three straight at home and have covered 14 of their past 20 overall vs. teams with a winning record. Take Orlando for a Friday NBA pick.

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