The Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic play at 7:30 tonight, nearly one week after the Celtics’ game against the Heat was postponed in what began a string of nine postponements due to a wave of COVID-19 across the league. Boston only practiced once, yesterday, since their win over the Wizards one week ago as Jayson Tatum and Robert Williams III remain in COVID protocol.
Carsen Edwards is out, back in the protocol as well, while Daniel Theis joined him sometime this week. Jaylen Brown, Semi Ojeleye and Javonte Green are listed as questionable with him, this likely being their last day in the protocol one week after their exposure to Tatum. If they all miss tonight, the Celtics will play with eight.
According to the online sports book Betonline.ag, the Celtics are 2.5 point home favorites anyway. Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, Evan Fournier, Michael Carter-Williams and others are missing from the Magic, leaving them with Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic to lead their attack.
- Celtics vs. Magic spread: Celtics -2.5
- Celtics vs. Magic over-under: 213.5 points
- Celtics vs. Magic money line: Celtics -145, Magic +125
The Magic begin a five game road trip that could represent a pivotal stretch for their playoff chances. Fultz tore his ACL last week and they’ve lost three straight games since, as injuries overtook their roster following a 6-2 start.
Gordon and Vucevic are talented interior scorers, while Terrance Ross and Vucevic can splash some threes, but the team only has four steady double-figure scorers on any given night now. Their defense will dictate their success, and in their last three games their starters all posted defensive ratings above 115.
The Celtics have struggled on that end too, but the return of Tristan Thompson and Grant Williams tonight should harden their interior. Tacko Fall provided excellent defense in drop coverage against Washington, something Boston could use again tonight.
It’s Marcus Smart time. Everything will run through Smart tonight if Brown is out. He’s struggled to finish at the rim this year, shooting under 40% inside, but has drawn a career high 4.4 free throws per game to go with 6.4 assists.
Payton Pritchard and Smart can split ball time and shoot a healthy number of pull-up threes to buoy Boston’s offense. The question is what else Boston will get? Will Jeff Teague be the double-figure scorer he was the first week of the season, or the largely empty scorer he was in the games that followed?
Aaron Nesmith should get his most minutes yet with the other wings absent. Can he take advantage when Smart and Pritchard hit him? The same question applies for Williams.
Boston might have enough to scrape by tonight, but we haven’t seen enough from any of these players as primary options to inspire confidence in a cover here.
Boston 100 Orlando 99.