NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, March 25th (All times eastern)
Boston Celtics (54-18) at Orlando Magic (52-18), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Orlando Magic have an opportunity to catch the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference standings when the two division winners clash in a key late-season showdown tonight at Amway Arena.
The Southeast champion Magic head into this evening's marquee matchup just one game behind the Atlantic Division-winning Celtics for second place in the East, with Boston trailing top-seeded Cleveland by four games entering Wednesday's play.
Both powerhouse teams are currently on impressive rolls as well. The Celtics are riding a four-game winning streak and have been buoyed by the recent return of star forward Kevin Garnett from a lingering knee injury. Orlando has won three in a row and 10 of its last 12 contests, with an 86-79 triumph over Boston at TD Banknorth Garden on March 8 included in that strong stretch.
The Magic have also won their last five outings at Amway Arena, where the team is an excellent 27-7 on the season. However, Boston delivered a 10-point victory in Orlando on January 22 in which the Celtics limited Orlando superstar Dwight Howard to a modest 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Howard produced more fitting numbers in the Magic's 106-102 win over New York on Monday, as the All-Star center racked up 29 points and 14 rebounds in leading Orlando to a home-and-home sweep of the Knicks.
The Magic also got a big effort from rookie Courtney Lee, who scored a career- high 22 points and hit some clutch free throws down the stretch. Hedo Turkoglu added 16 points in the win, 12 of which came in the fourth quarter.
Garnett, who did not play in that March 8 loss to the Magic, has averaged 10.7 points and around 16 1/2 minutes in three games since returning from a right knee strain that kept him sidelined nearly a month. Boston went just 7-6 during the 13 games the 2004 league MVP sat out.
Since Garnett has been back in action, the Celtics have held the opposition under 87 points in each of their last three tilts, including Monday's 90-77 decision over the visiting Los Angeles Clippers. Boston forced 25 turnovers in that one which the defending world champions converted into 25 points.
Ray Allen led a balanced Boston scoring attack with 20 points in Monday's win. Rajon Rondo, who also missed the Celtics' loss to the Magic earlier this month, logged 14 points, seven assists and five steals, while Kendrick Perkins compiled 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Boston had lost six straight times at Amway Arena prior to its victory there in January and owns a strong 25-12 road record on the season.
03/25 11:00:35 ET