NBA Free Picks: Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic Game 2 Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 5/18/2010
I definitely didn’t see Game 1 coming in this series, as the Magic were totally outclassed. Hard to believe this is the same Celtics team that was bombed by Cleveland in Game 3 of that series.
Celtics at Magic, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
The line: Magic -7 (189)
Props: Total made three-point shots in the game – 15; Dwight Howard total points – 18.5; Rashard Lewis total points – 15.5.
How they enter: The Magic had won 14 games in a row (13-1 ATS) and hadn’t lost at home since March before Boston jumped on them early and held on. Of course that was Boston’s fourth impressive win in a row (all covers) after winning the last three against the Cavs.
Scouting report: Orlando vows to raise its energy for Game 2, and maybe it was just a matter of having eight days off before Game 1 as to why the Magic looked so out of sync. Orlando made only 13 of 38 shots in the first half and could never really recover. Dwight Howard was really out of whack, but credit Boston’s defense for a lot of that. Howard, who killed the Hawks last round, who made only 3 of 10 field-goal attempts, committed seven of Orlando’s 18 turnovers and finished with 13 points. The C’s also made sure to get physical with Howard, sending him to the line for 12 free throws, with him making seven. “They want me to wrestle and fight with them, and that takes me out of my game. I need to not wrestle with them and just play,” Howard said afterward.
Orlando also didn’t get much out of starting small forward Matt Barnes in Game 1 as he played only 15 minutes and 30 seconds because of back pain. He was assigned to guard Ray Allen, and 14 of Allen’s game-high 25 points came in the first and third quarters, the only two that Barnes played. But he says the pain has subsided since Sunday, and Barnes’ entire game is built on energy. It will be curious to see if Barnes guards Allen or Paul Pierce tonight. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy changed from his regular-season strategy of Barnes on Pierce and Vince Carter on Allen and swapped those two. Pierce and Allen both shot at least 50 percent in Game 1 and totaled 47 points (only one other player, Rasheed Wallace, even had double figures). So Van Gundy may switch back. By the way, the Magic are 1-10 all-time in postseason series when losing Game 1 (1-5 in best-of-seven series).
The picks: The Celtics held the Magic to 5-for-22 shooting from three--point range in Game 1 (missing their first nine), but Orlando set NBA records for three-points attempted and made during the season. I definitely don’t see those kind of Game 1 numbers happening again (well, the attempts maybe). Rashard Lewis was invisible in Game 1, missing eight of his 10 shot attempts including all of his three-point tries.
I have no doubt that Boston will keep bumping Howard in an attempt to frustrate him, and that worked for the Charlotte Bobcats. I don’t like the ‘over’ 18.5 points at all for Dwight – he didn’t even average that number during the regular season. And Howard averaged only 12.3 against the Celtics in four regular-season games. I do believe Lewis gets above his 15.5 – he had in the previous three playoff games. He’s Mr. Streaky but usually doesn’t have to bad games in a row, and he said he got up “a million shots” at practice on Monday to fix that Game 1 0-for-6 from long range. The Magic hit 37.5 percent of their treys against the Bobcats and 39.3 percent against the Hawks, and I believe they are back to normal in Game 2 – meaning take the ‘over’ 15 total three-pointers because I see the Magic having at least 10 on their own (they averaged 10.2 during the year).
I would also take the ‘under’ on the total points – it’s 8-1 in the past nine meetings – and Boston +7 as the dog has covered in the past six in this series (although I do believe Orlando wins).
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