On the first night of February, the Rajon Rondo-less Boston Celtics look to start the month on a good note as they take on the Glen “Big Baby” Davis-less Orlando Magic. Davis, who broke his left foot in the first half against the New York Knicks, has been shut down for the rest of the season and joins Rondo on a long list of big name players being injured this season.
The Celtics come into the game on a two game winning streak after a huge victory against the Miami Heat on Sunday and crowning the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday. Without Rondo, Boston has had to play a different style of basketball than they are accustomed to. Instead of running the half court offense, they’ve had to push the tempo much more and try running the fast break as often as possible. Courtney Lee seems to benefit from this style of play as he had one of his better games in a Celtics uniform against the Kings, and even though he only had 9 points in the game, he looked much more comfortable and in rhythm.
“The Pit Bulls”, Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee, played tenacious defense on the Kings backcourt. They can be expected to do the same against the Magic. If Boston can force turnovers and get on the fast break early in the game, the Celtics should have a much easier time scoring. Boston had a difficult time getting points in the half court game since Rondo is the one who directs and calls the plays on offense. To win this game, the Celtics need to run, and keep the pressure on the Magic.
For the Magic, a majority of their points will come from their guards. J.J. Redick and Jameer Nelson combined for 50 points against the New York Knicks and when those two get going, no lead is safe. This is why pressuring the ball for the Celtics is a must. Boston cannot allow Redick or Nelson to shoot lights out, and with Glen Davis out, the Magic will become primarily a jump shooting team.
Players to watch for would be Jeff Green for Boston and Nikola Vucevic for Orlando. Green had 12 points against the Kings, making his first five shots. He will not be going up against against a player with great length so he should be able to get to the basket easily. Vucevic is someone I’d keep my eye on. The Celtics are not known as a great rebounding team, and given the opportunity, Vucevic could have a big night grabbing boards.
Even without Rondo, the Celtics get a victory by double-digits. If Boston boxes out on rebounding opportunities and continues to pressure the ball, making it hard for Orlando’s guards to operate, the Celtics should have no problem taking this game.