Though their record doesn’t jump off the page when you view it, this Orlando team makes life very difficult for all their opponents. Injuries or not, they always bring their A-game and can take you out of your offensive rhythm. That’s why they lead the league in fewest points allowed, and qualify atop the leaderboards of most defensive categories. It’s surprising they don’t get much national TV coverage, but they’ll be ready for the battle tonight.
Boston, on the other hand, seems to have guys shuffling in and out of the lineup each and every game, with very few constants. One of those constants though has been Jayson Tatum, voted to his first NBA All-Star game in his third year in the league. He’s averaging a shade under 22 points, pairing it with seven boards and three assists a night. And Kemba Walker was voted in as a starter for the event, averaging 22-4-5 on the year, playing great ball in his new home. It’s amazing how they have thrived so much after Kyrie, Rozier and Horford all departed.
Boston is a 7.5-point favorite tonight, while the over/under is set at 211.
Orlando looking to make some national noise
Fans around the league got a small taste of what Orlando can do last year when they stole game one in Toronto from the eventual NBA champs. They, unfortunately, haven’t had great health luck this year, Jonathan Isaac still out at least another month with his knee injury. Al-Farouq Aminu is still multiple months from his return. And DJ Augustin is 1-2 weeks from being re-evaluated. Markelle Fultz however, has come in and played well on both ends. He had 14 assists the other night and is averaging 12-4-5 for the year, also serving as a defensive stopper. And he is still only 21 years of age.
Aaron Gordon is remained as the subject of various trade rumors, a place Evan Fournier has also found himself in. Nikola Vucevic meanwhile, is averaging a double-double with 19 and 11, also dishing 3.5 assists per contest.
Boston looking to break through league’s top defense
This Celtics team does not lack playmakers or shot makers, and have continued to excel of late. They have three fantastic wing players in Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward. Their only player over the age of 30 is Brad Wanamaker, showing how much youth they still have and that they will be relevant for the years to come. Daniel Theis has thrived with his increased playing time, protecting the rim and boxing out effectively. How lucky this team is to go from Doc Rivers, to a budding coaching star in Brad Stevens.
To get it done tonight, they need to move the ball and share the wealth. That hasn’t been an issue all year, and it shouldn’t be tonight either.
Celtics win it for the home fans
A tough loss for ORL, but they’ll get over it. Gordon Hayward will add 25 to lift the C’s to victory.
Take the Celtics in this one. Bet Boston -7.5.
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