Thursday, January 22, 2009

Celtics/Magic Tonight, Live From God's Sweaty Taint

Now, most of you probably saw that the Celtics were playing the Magic tonight and thought “the Magic, whoopity shit. Are Dennis Scott and Horace Grant’s goggles still playing for them? We should beat them like Mickey beats Minnie.” And, historically speaking, you’d be somewhat right. The Magic have only appeared in one NBA Finals (getting owned by Houston), their team assist record is held by Scott Skiles, and Nick Anderson (seriously) is their alltime points leader. Their alltime regular season record is below .500, and they’re 31-43 historically in the playoffs. Moreover, they're from Central Florida, which is the worst place in human history, and I'm including Dachau and Auschwitz.

There's just one problem - this year’s Magic team is really, really fucking good.

In fact, it is not the Celtics, but rather the Orlando Magic that own the league’s best record right now. They lead the league in three-point percentage. They’re currently riding a seven-game winning streak, which included a road trip where they beat the three best teams in the West. They’ve got four guys averaging above 17 points per game, and the league’s leading rebounder. They’re 16-3 at home, where tonight’s game will be played. Let me repeat – this is a really, really good team.

Thankfully, the Celtics aren’t too shabby themselves, and are riding a six-game winning streak (albeit against inferior competition). Ray Allen has three straight 20-point games, Eddie House went OFF last night, and KG is averaging double-digit rebounds in January. Moreover, the C’s bitchslapped the Magic in their only meeting of the season this year, 107-88. The loss was the worst defeat the Magic have suffered this season. And while the Magic have the best winning percentage in the league (.805, 33-8 record), the C’s lead the league in wins with 35.

But, suffice it to say, I’m pretty damn worried about tonight’s game. Jameer Nelson, the pride of Chester, PA, has grownsed up like a motherfucker this year, averaging more than 17 PPG and cutting his turnovers down significantly. He’s also shooting better than 45% from three. Combined with the shooting stroke of Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu, the C’s perimeter defense, which has been a concern all year, will be ridiculously tested tonight against the league’s best deep shooting team.

And then there’s Superman himself, Dwight Howard. To call Howard a manbeast is an insult to Howard, as the dude is easily the most talented big in the league right now. Along with his 20 PPG, Howard grabs 14.1 rebounds and blocks 3.2 shots per game, the latter two good for best in the league. He’ll be matched up against just-saw-his-first-action-in-weeks Kendrick Perkins, still getting over a bum shoulder and with a tendency to get into foul trouble. Behind Perk is Brian Scalabrine - at which point C’s fans will collectively utter “oh shit” while Howard posterizes Scal on possession after possession.

This Magic team, in a lot of ways, mirrors the C’s strengths and weaknesses. The Celtics rely on their tough defense, but so do the Magic. The C’s have guards who penetrate and kick out to open shooters, but so do the Magic, but with better shooters. Both teams rebound extremely well, and in fact grab the same number of rebounds (42.9) per game. Neither team has any depth whatsoever, and both rely heavily on their starting five. The point guards for each team have become bona fide leaders this year, contributing in a number of ways.

Due to all of these factors, I’m not wildly optimistic about the C’s chances tonight. This will also be the third game in four days for the C’s, while the Magic haven’t played since Saturday. Take into account that the Magic are on a hot streak and playing at home and I *gulp* actually think they’ll beat the C’s tonight in the whory swamps of Central Florida. I also think the Magic, like the Cavs last week, will be out to prove something against the defending champs, and we all saw how that turned out in Cleveland.

Does that mean that I think the Magic are on their way to the Championship? Hardly. But tonight, for this one game in January, I'm worried. Worried like Minnie when Mickey comes home drunk.

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