BOSTON Who would have thought no Rajon Rondo (wrist), Ray Allen (ankle) or three key reserves, would somehow equate to the Boston Celtics most impressive win of the season, an 87-56 blowout against Orlando. While many were expecting the game to be a blowout, few would have anticipated it being so lopsided in favor of the injury-riddled Celtics?
To win a game like that so emphatically, a lot has to go right.
We'll take a look at the keys we outlined prior to the game, and how those keys played out in the game's outcome.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Three-point shooting should be a major factor in tonight's game, with the Celtics and the Magic ranking No. 1 and 2, respectively, in 3-point shooting percentage. However, the C's will be significantly challenged in that are with their best 3-point shooter, Ray Allen, out with an ankle injury.
WHAT WE SAW: The 3-ball was not nearly as big a game-changer for either team, on Monday. Orlando connected on just four of its 16 3-point attempts. The Celtics were even worse, misfiring on 11 of their 13 3-pointers.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs. Ryan Anderson. You've got the perennial all-star battling the all-star wannabe right here. Garnett is coming off a solid game at Washington, but Anderson is coming in with what has been a breakout season for the fourth year pro. He's averaging 17.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game which has been a big part of Orlando's impressive start to this season.
WHAT WE SAW: This was Anderson's moment to shine. Instead, he shrunk like a worm in salt water. Not only did he not come close to matching his season averages, he didn't even score or grab a single rebound in 23-plus minutes. Meanwhile, Garnett was part of the three-headed monster (Jermaine O'Neal and Greg Stiemsma were the other heads) charged with trying to limit Dwight Howard. Garnett did a solid job on him, and even managed to chip in 14 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double this season.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Paul Pierce. He's coming off a huge 34-point, 10-assist, 8-rebound night at Washington. With so many Celtics out of the lineup, Pierce might have to be even better than that just for the Celtics to have a fighting chance.
WHAT WE SAW: Pierce wasn't as good statistically on Monday as he was on Sunday, but his ability to fill up the stat sheet didn't go unnoticed. He shared game-high scoring honors of 19 points, with teammate Brandon Bass. Pierce also managed to dish out seven assists to go with five rebounds.
STAT TO TRACK: Tonight's game features the NBA's active leaders in 20-point, 20-rebound games. No. 1 on the list is Dwight Howard, who has 37. Behind him is Kevin Garnett, who has 27. Howard's chances of getting another one tonight? Very good. KG? Not so much.
WHAT WE SAW: Neither player came within striking distance of adding to their 2020 resumes, but both provided a much-needed lift for their respective teams. Howard had 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Magic while Garnett chipped in with 14 points and 10 rebounds.