Celtics - Magic preview: Tougher than expected

Celtics - Magic preview: Tougher than expected
November 8, 2013, 9:45 am
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Predicted by many to be among the league's worst teams again, this Orlando Magic act has been pretty good so far.

The Boston Celtics (1-4) will have their hands full in trying to put together back-to-back wins which would snap the Magic's three-game winning streak.

After seeing Orlando (3-2) dispose of some of the league's better teams like former coach Doc Rivers' Los Angeles Clippers club, the Magic are quickly making all those doubts about them disappear.

"Orlando, from what I've seen and the numbers would bear this out, is probably the best team on paper that we've played," said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

Said Boston's Jeff Green: "They've been playing good. I don't think any team has started, as expected. We just have to go out there and play. We can't look at their record."

Here are a few more keys to tonight's game:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: If there's a weakness with this Magic team, it's that they don't force a lot of turnovers. That gives the Celtics a much better chance at being more efficient offensively which has been an issue. Only three teams (Utah, Cleveland and Chicago) have an offensive rating (team points per 100 possessions) worst than Boston's 93.9 per game.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Avery Bradley vs Arron Afflalo: Tonight is the kind of matchup that makes a lot of sense to have Bradley play more off the ball. He will be challenged by Afflalo whose 47.8 percent shooting on 3s puts him among the league's top-10.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Nikola Vucevic is establishing himself as one of the best centers in the NBA, averaging career highs in scoring (17.8 points) and rebounding (13.2 rebounds) this season.

STAT TO TRACK: Orlando's unexpected success has been fueled by their strong team defense. They come into tonight's game ranked third with a defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) of 94.8. The Celtics aren't too far behind with a defensive rating of 99.1 which ranks 10th in the league.