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Game thread: Orlando Magic vs. Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics return back home tonight to the TD Garden after a two game road trip to face off against the Orlando Magic. The pinstriped Magic have a new coach in Steve Clifford and after winning the opening game of the 2018-19 campaign, currently sit at 1-2 with a mixed bag of performances to start the season. Friday night, the Magic suffered a heavy 32 point home defeat at the hands of the Charlotte Hornets and the next night squared of in a competitive 1 point road loss 116-115 to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Looking at the roster in preseason, the Magic had the potential to be one of the funnest league pass teams to watch this year. The Magic have an athletic, long front court rotation spearheaded by PF Aaron Gordon, Rookie Center Mohamed Bamba and second year big man Jonathan Isaac. However, it was the other man in the middle Nikola Vucevic who is coming into the game following an impressive performance against Joel Embiid Saturday, with 27 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists.

Early this season, Coach Clifford has experimented with the starting point guard duties allowing both D.J. Augustin and Evan Fournier to fill that role following the departure of Elfrid Payton to NOLA. Rotation wise, the Magic coaching staff have given minutes to some athletic young bench players this season in the form of Wesley Iwundu, Terrence Ross and recent acquisition Jerian Grant from Chicago.

The Celtics on the other hand are coming off a lacklustre performance on the 2nd night of a back-to-back in New York, quite a few players on the Celtics have struggled offensively to start the season. The ball movement has not been great so far and Brad Stevens has juggled a variety of lineup combinations as he looks to best integrate the bench unit and the starters. Jayson Tatum though, has come out extremely strong through three games averaging 19.5 points and 9 rebounds per game. Likewise, Al Horford has continued to show he is arguably the most complete player on the team sitting in the team’s top three in following categories: assists, rebounds, blocks, and 3 pt field goal percentage.

On the injury front, Aron Baynes (hamstring) will not be available after suffering a knee to the back of the thigh Saturday night in New York, it’s not clear how long the recovery will take at this stage. The Celtics much lauded wing depth receives a boost tonight as Gordon Hayward returns to the team after resting on the 2nd night of the back-to-back with leg soreness. News also surfaced yesterday that Marcus Smart slightly tweaked his thumb injury in the first quarter against New York and will most likely be sporting a strapped shooting hand.

Projected Starters

PG – Kyrie IrvingD.J. Augustin

SG – Jaylen BrownEvan Fournier

SF – Gordon HaywardJonathon Simmons

PF – Jayson TatumAaron Gordon

C – Al HorfordNikola Vucevic

Injuries

Celtics:

Aron Baynes (hamstring)

Jabari Bird (personal)

Magic:

None

How to Watch

Time – 7:30 PM EST

TV – NBATV

As we’ve been mentioning, please keep Shirley (FLCeltsFan), who usually puts together our game previews, in your thoughts as she and her family recover from the devastating impacts from Hurricane Michael. Read the GoFundMe page for more details and please consider giving a donation. The CelticsBlog family is with you, Shirley!

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