In what could be a preview of the first round of the NBA playoffs, the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics will square off on the basketball odds at the TD Garden on Wednesday 4/18 at 8:00 ET.
The Magic looked like they had basically stuck it in the tank after losing Dwight Howard to a back injury, but at least over the course of their last two games, they were able to take down the Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76ers by double digits to make sure that they are going to be in the playoffs. This is the start of a tremendously tough three-game road trip that includes stops in Denver and Utah on back-to-back nights over the weekend. Though the idea of running down the Indiana Pacers to get all the way up to the No. 3 seed is possible, many in Orlando would just take the idea of not falling to No. 7 or No. 8 right now, which would mean having to take on the Chicago Bulls or Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. With Howard out for the rest of the regular season and Glen Davis still nursing a tweaked knee, Daniel Orton is going to make his second career start at center on Wednesday night. Look for the scoring load to be put on the shoulders of JJ Redick and Ryan Anderson, who have both been fantastic this year in a pinch for the Magic.
The Celtics have Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett back in the lineup, but the only man that is missing still is Ray Allen. They are being quite careful with Allen and his sore ankle, knowing that they are going to need him in the playoffs, but just like Orlando is trying to move up in the Eastern Conference playoff chase, so is Boston. A win tonight locks up the Atlantic Division title, but there are still some concerns for sure. The C’s are a half game behind both the Magic and the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference standings, and if they end up staying behind either of these teams at the end of the season, they are going to have to open up the playoffs on the road in spite of their division title. The stakes are high in this one for sure, and the play of Garnett against Orton is going to be the key. The argument could be made that KG is the MVP of the second half of the season league wide, as his move to center has really made a tremendous difference for his team. Now, he gets what should be a relatively easy matchup, and he could be in store for just a monstrous game at home on Wednesday night.
The Final Word: There is still no line for this game as of 9:00 a.m. (ET), but we have a good feeling that Boston is going to be the team to back in this one. The Celtics have dominated this series of late, winning three in a row, including absolutely murdering the Magic on this court earlier this year.
Orlando Magic @ Boston Celtics Free Pick: Boston Celtics
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.