Celtics-Magic preview: Will Pressey continue to grow?

Celtics-Magic preview: Will Pressey continue to grow?
January 19, 2014, 12:30 pm
Share This Post

ORLANDO, Fla. — There's no telling how long the Boston Celtics will continue to limit Rajon Rondo's minutes.

That means seeing a lot more of Phil Pressey, which isn't a bad thing.

Especially when the rookie point guard plays with the kind of poise and court vision he's displayed in Boston's last two games, seemingly getting better as his workload increases.

"You know, some guys just thrive with that extra opportunity," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

This season, Pressey has a 4:1 assists-to-turnover ratio, which includes 19 assists without a single turnover in his last two games.

"I've been saying this since Day One, the more you play out there, the more comfortable you get," Pressey said. "My teammates have been believing in me, so that's helped me out as well."

There was some uncertainty as to what his role would be once Rondo returned, but Boston trading away Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks to Golden State created some room to breathe in what had been a congested backcourt.

And while there are many praising Pressey's play of late, he is quick to credit Rondo's influence -- even when Rondo was recovering from a torn right ACL injury -- as being a critical component in his development.

"I owe a lot of it to him," Pressey said of Rondo. "Even when he was out, he was talking to me, telling me what to do, telling me to hold the guys up. And watching him every day in practice helps me out in the games."

Here are some other keys in tonight's game:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Shot-making has been a major issue for both teams recently. In fact, Boston and Orlando have been the NBA's worst-shooting teams over the last 10 games, with the Celtics connecting on a league-low 41.1 percent of their shots and the Magic shooting only slightly better (41.5 percent) over the same span.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Avery Bradley vs Arron Afflalo

Bradley will be looking to bounce back from a tough 5-for-20 shooting night against the Lakers. But having to deal with Afflalo won't be easy. Like Bradley, he cut his teeth in the NBA as an above-average defender who has made steady progression as a scorer. Afflalo has improved his scoring in each of his seven NBA seasons, one of just six players in league history to accomplish such a feat.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Big games by Kelly Olynyk have been followed by big letdowns. He has had five double-digit scoring games this season, including a career-high 25 points on Friday night. But each of his previous four double-digit scoring efforts, was followed by a single-digit performance; he's averaged just 5.3 points in such games.

STAT TO TRACK: Boston's bench has been hit or miss when it comes to scoring this season. But then again, the C's aren't Orlando. The Magic have lost 10 in a row, and lack of bench scoring during that span is one of the many areas they struggle in. In the last 10 games, Orlando's second unit has averaged 24.6 points, which ranks 27th in the league. Boston hasn't exactly rode its second wave to a ton of victories, either. In the last 10 games, they average 30.9 points per game, which ranks 16th in the league.