On Friday night, the Celtics will vie for their first win over Orlando since March of 2018 when the teams meet at the Amway Center in Central Florida. Boston has surged to a pair of double-digit victories over Western Conference foes Memphis and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Orlando sits in seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings, 18 games out of first place with a 21-24 record. The Magic also recently beat the Lakers, 119-118 on the road, but have since suffered losses to Golden State, the Los Angeles Clippers, and Oklahoma City with a win over Charlotte mixed in as well.
Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic
Friday, January 24, 2020 at 7 p.m.
Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
Coverage: NBC Sports Boston, Fox Sports Florida
*All odds and betting info courtesy of OddsShark and originally posted by BetOnline
SPREAD: Orlando (-1 at -110)
MONEYLINE: Orlando -116; Boston -104
OVER/UNDER: 213 (-110 either side)
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While the Celtics are mainly focused on keeping their current hot streak alive, a big storyline around Friday’s game concerns a homecoming for reserve center Tacko Fall. The 7-foot-5 big man was recalled from the G-League Maine Red Claws with both Robert Williams and Enes Kanter expected to miss the Celtics contest with Orlando.
Fall played four years of college basketball with Central Florida, setting a record for the highest career field-goal percentage in NCAA history at 73.95 percent. His performance snapped a nearly forty-year-old record set by Oregon State’s Steve Johnson in 1981.
Aside from Fall, the Celtics are hoping for Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to be available. Brown is still nursing a sprained thumb while Tatum left Boston’s game on Wednesday with a groin injury. Both are questionable for Friday night.
Orlando has struggled offensively this year, averaging just 104 points per game — 29th in the NBA. Fortunately, their defense hasn’t let down and tops the league, also averaging 104 points per game.
The Celtics are just two spots behind Orlando in points allowed per game (105.4) but have gone just 2-4 against the league’s top-five defenses. Orlando is so strong defensively because of players like Jonathan Isaac who leads the team in both assists (1.6) and blocks (2.4) this season.
But unlike last year, the Magic have dipped in rebounding production. Opponents average 46.1 boards per game against Orlando — ninth-most in the NBA — while the Magic themselves sit 18th averaging 45 rebounds per game.
Two of the NBA’s three best defensive teams likely won’t yield a ton of points, but it does make for an intriguing back-and-forth battle. The Celtics have struggled against Orlando in recent years given the Magic’s athletic and physical frontcourt. Boston has beefed up its size this year, but with both Kanter and Rob Williams out, that could create a problem in the paint.
Pick: This game will be decided with one of the final possessions. Boston has the talent to win defensive games like this, but only if it can out-rebound Orlando which will be tough. Boston should win this one, but the point total will hit the under in a 102-99 thriller.