Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic: Who's Got the Advantage in Big Monday Matchup?
The Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic have been the beasts of the east dating back to the 2007-2008 season when the Celtics brought in The Big Three.
This includes a Game 7 Eastern Conference Semifinals victory in 08-09. That season Dwight Howard and the Magic went on to the NBA Finals.
The next season the Celtics got their payback with a win over the Magic in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals that sent them to their second NBA finals in three years.
This season the Orlando Magic have revamped their roster but the rivalry is as alive as ever. The Magic are currently 4.5 GB of the Celtics for the top record in the Eastern Conference.
On Monday the Celtics will try and avenge a Christmas Day loss to the Magic that included an uncharacteristic fourth quarter collapse.
Here is a preview to this pivotal Eastern Conference showdown between the Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic on Monday.
Rajon Rondo Vs Jameer Nelson
The absence of Rajon Rondo in the previous contest was definitely detrimental to the Celtics as they had no true ball handler.
Rondo is having an excellent season with 10.6 PPG and an NBA leading 13.4 APG.
Not to be outdone Nelson is having one of his best season with the Magic. He currently leads the team with 6.7 APG and has had a tendency to hit big shots throughout the seaosn.
That being said there is arguably no point guard in the NBA who can matchup with Rondo right now. He is playing at an MVP level and is the pulse of the Celtics.
Ray Allen Vs Jason Richardson
This is definitely one of the more intriguing matchups and one that could easily be a difference maker for either team.
While both men are their respective teams top three point shooters they have vastly different playing styles. Richardson is bigger and relies more on athleticism, while Allen is a fitness fanatic who thrives running off screens.
On the season Allen is averaging a career high 50.9% from the field and scoring 17.5 PPG.
Neither player excelled in their previous matchup with Allen tallying just nine points and Richardson scoring just five.
Paul Pierce Vs Hedo Turkoglu
Turkoglu's return to the Magic coincides with his return to relevance in the NBA. Something about Van Gundy's system allows his game to really thrive.
Turkoglu was a Celtic killer in the Magic's trip to the finals in 08-09. Back with the Magic he is posting 11.8 PPG/6.4 APG/4.9 RPG. Those are excellent numbers across the board for a player who looked out of sync in Toronto and Phoenix.
However, as good as Turkoglu has been of late, there is a reason Pierce is known as The Captain and The Truth for the Celtics.
Pierce has not missed a start this season and helped lead the Celtics through injuries to KG and Rajon Rondo.
Pierce has been his usual self this year leading the Celtics at 19.2 PPG.
Kevin Garnett Vs Brandon Bass
Bass has truly had a breakout season for the Magic and begun to justify the four year contract he signed with the Magic in 2009.
Bass has finally received starting minutes following the Rashard Lewis trade and is averaging career highs with 11.0 PPG and 5.5 RPG.
Meanwhile, Garnett has missed the last eight games with a right leg injury but has begun practicing and all signs point to a return Monday Night.
Garnett led the Celtics in their Christmas Day matchup with with Magic with 22 points. He has returned to form this season averaging 15 PPG and 9.5 RPG.
Although he is coming off injury, the intensity and defensive prowess Garnett brings to the table is vital for the Celtics. Expect the noise level at the Garden to be deafening in KG's return.
Shaquille O'Neal Vs Dwight Howard
The Big Shamrock has had a better than expected season and has become a fan favorite in the Garden. By limiting his minutes to 21 MPG the Celtics have gotten excellent production from their center filling in for the injured Kendrick Perkins.
Shaq is averaging 9.6 PPG and 5.0 RPG all while shooting a career high 66.9% from the floor.
That being said Dwight Howard is the best center in the NBA today. Much like a younger O'Neal he has the ability to dominate both sides of the ball.
Although he was held to just six points on Christmas Day, Howard is averaging 21.9 PPG and 13.4 RPG this season.
He also is the two time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and is averaging 2.3 BPG.
Glen Davis Vs J.J. Redick
Although they play entirely different positions they each are the first man off the bench for their respective teams.
Since the KG injury Davis has been thrust into the starting lineup and has responded. He is averaging career highs with 12.5 PPG and 5.4 RPG in just over 30 minutes per game.
Davis is most famous in this rivalry for his Game 4 buzzer beater in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, after which he allegedly ran into a young Magic fan.
On the other side Redick has worked his way to a serviceable NBA bench player and is averaging a career high 10.2 PPG. He also is a sure free throw shooter and always a threat from three point range.
Davis has worked hard to expand his range this season and it has shown. He scored 16 points on Christmas Day and look for much of the same on Monday.
Nate Robinson Vs Gilbert Arenas
Many people will say that Nate Robinson was to blame for the Celtics last loss to the Magic. Robinson shot an abysmal 2-15 from the field including 1-7 from three point range.
Now that Rondo is back and healthy, Robinson will be able to go back to his role as bench spark which could help keep his shot totals in check.
Arenas has undeniably had some struggles since coming over to the Magic. He is shooting just 37% from the field resulting in 9.5 PPG.
For the time being Arenas is solely being used as Nelson's backup at point guard. However, it is wise not to sleep on Agent Zero as he can get as hot as anyone in the NBA and really change a game.
Doc Rivers Vs Stan Van Gundy
Van Gundy is any media member's dream who is not afraid to speak his mind. He also is a master motivator and well respected by his players.
He couldnt look any less like someone who belongs on a basketball court but Van Gundy's results stand for themselves.
After all he brought the Magic all the way to the NBA Finals in 08-09 and they have been an Eastern powerhouse for most of his tenure.
However, Rivers has complete control of his team and his locker room. Rivers has helped revive the mystique of the Celtics with an NBA Championship and two NBA Finals appearances.
Boston Celtics Vs Orlando Magic
Orlando is currently the hotter team winning eight of their last ten and, as previously stated, hold the head to head advantage this season.
The biggest mismatch should come from Dwight Howard at center. If Orlando wants to win this game he needs to be much more involved offensively and stay out of foul trouble.
With Rondo back the Celtics once again look like the strongest team in the Eastern Conference. They are a conference best 17-3 at the TD Banknorth Garden and the return of Kevin Garnett can only help.
Look for the Celtics to avenge their Christmas Day loss behind playmaking from MVP candidate Rajon Rondo.