Scouting Report: Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic

By James Blackburn

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard celebrates with guard J.J. Redick (front) after beating the Boston Celtics during NBA basketball action in Orlando, Florida December 25, 2010. The Magic beat the Celtics. REUTERS/Kevin Kolczynski (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Christmas Day Game

Magic Win 86-78

Box Score

Note: Rajon Rondo did not play due to injury.

Game Recap/Thoughts

First Half

  • Celtics are definitely better playing Half-court basketball and the Magic are better in transition.
  • Magic came out and punched Boston in the mouth, going on an 11-0 run. Boston took the Magic’s best shot and ended the quarter ahead 20-19.
  • The Magic took control early dictating the tempo and forcing Boston to run and getting out on the break. Boston then started to slow the game down and ran their offense to get back into the game.
  • The Magic took and made good shots when they got out in transition. When Boston forced them to play half-court basketball, they look uncomfortable and out of sync.
  • Boston started off playing very poor transition defense. They were giving the Magic wide out shots and did a poor job of finding the shooters such as Redick and Turkoglu.
  • Boston really misses Rondo. They were without a PG who could get to the lane and create.
  • Paul Pierce played the PG when Robinson was on the bench.
  • Boston is a very good passing team. All their players are good passers, including their bigs ( they are even better w/ Rondo). Boston loves to down screen on both blocks and curl shooters like Pierce and Allen. Both of those players do a great job of recognizing if the defense traps off the screen or if they are late rotating on the screener. When there is space, they will make you pay if the midrange J. If you cheat it and come high, they both can throw smooth and quick passes to KG or any other big for easy buckets.

Second Half

  • Orlando looks a lot more comfortable in the half court and is starting to knock down open looks that they were missing in the first half.
  • Boston’s defense still allowed shooters for Orlando to get open looks. They needed to make their shooters go to the rim, where shot blockers were there to protect the rim.
  • Boston lost the game partly because of their shot selection. Pierce, Robinson, and Allen settled for poor shots. They went away from what was working for them in the first half and resorted to one-on-one offense. They did not pass the ball nearly as well.
  • Boston did a poor job of pick and roll defense in 2nd half allowing Nelson to get his rhythm.

Scouting Reports


Dwight Howard (33 min, 1-4 FG, 4-10 FT, 11 reb, 5 fouls, 5 blks, 6 TP)

Strengths- Showed his power and strength on the defensive end early, showing the ability to guard Shaq one on one in the low post. He was able to keep Shaq from doing what he wanted down low. Showed some improved footwork in low post, but his best offense is still a rebound and dunk. Good shot blocker. Does a good job of drawing fouls.

Weaknesses- Inconsistent FT shooter, gets frustrated too much with the officials calls.

Overview- One of the poorest offensive performances of the year for Howard. Was scoreless until the 2nd half. Was in foul trouble most of the game. Did a good job on the defensive side of the ball, but was non existent on the offensive end. It will be interesting to see how Howard performs in the rest of the Magic meetings with Boston. When Perkins returns, the Celtics will have plenty of bigs to throw at Howard in Perkins, Shaq, Jermain O’Neal, and Davis.

Hedo Turkoglu (32 min, 6-10 FG, 4-8 3pt, 4 ass, 4 reb, 16 TP)

Strengths- Great shooter who is deadly when his feet are set. Does a good job of finding his spots in transition. Has the ability to create his own shot when needed, but is more effective on the catch and shoot.

Weaknesses- Not a great defensive player, slow feet.

Overview- Hedo started off strong hitting several 3’s in the Magic’s 11-0 run to start the game. Hedo should continue to look more and more comfortable as he gets reestablished with his former team.

Jameer Nelson ( 28 min, 3- 9 FG, 4-4 FT, 3 ass, 6 TO, 12 TP)

Stengths- Good shooter, although he struggled with his shot today. Decent defender. Has a good floater in his arsenal as well.

Weaknesses- Poor P/R player, needs to do a better job of turning the corner. Can’t get to the lane and create. More of an undersized 2G, than a true PG, which the team needs.

Overview- Nelson struggled early in this game, but recovered nicely in the second half, finding his rhythm and hitting some big shots down the stretch to help put the Celtics away. The Magic need a PG like Chris Paul and Rondo, who with their speed can get into the lane at will and kick to the Magic shooters or throw the lob to Howard. The Magic have been looking for the pieces to put them over the top and to keep them competitive in the East. I don’t think they will be able to really compete for a championship until they get a new PG.


Shaquille O’Neal (12 min, 1-3 FG, 1 reb, 1 blk, 2 TP)

Strengths- Can still hold his own on the defensive side of the floor. Is a presence down low. Howard did a good job on him today and kept him from scoring and getting comfortable offensively.

Weaknesses- Foul prone. He is just not the same on the low block anymore. Just a couple of years ago, every time Shaq caught the ball in good position under the goal, it was either a dunk or a foul. But today Howard was able to block or intimidate Shaq’s shot even when he got deep position.

Overview- His age is starting to show, but he is still force. Howard might be able to push him around, but there are still very few centers in the NBA who can do that to O’Neal.

Paul Pierce (40 min, 6-14 FG, 5 ass, 8 reb, 18 TP)

Strengths- Creative offensive game. Good P/R player, who makes good decisions w/ the ball in these situations. Is a duel threat offensively who can take it to the rim and finish w/ contact and can shoot the 3. Loves to go right but can go left as well. Not the fastest or most athletic player, but has a smooth and creative offensive game. Very strong player with good upper body strength.

Weaknesses- slow release on jumper and has unusual footwork putting 1 foot far in front of the other. Sometimes settles for the jumper.

Overview- Pierce will go into the HOF as one of the best all-around offensive players to ever play the game. He always looks like he is slow and is just coasting but is well conditioned and is not afraid to take the big shot.

Nate Robinson (42 min, 2-15 FG, 6 reb, 4 ass, 7 TP)

Strengths- Athletic, strong rebounder for a guard. Solid defensive player. Scores in bunches and is a good spark for the second unit normally, but is very inconsistent. Decent 3pt. shooter who can create his own shot.

Weaknesses- Over dribbles, not a good shooter ( decent 3 pt. shooter, but not a good pull up or mid range shooter. and takes a lot of bad shots. Does not have a high basketball IQ. Is at his best in the open court, but is in the wrong system because the Celtics are a half-court team. Does a poor job of setting up the offense. At times it looks like he does not want the ball and is timid and then at other times as soon as he touches in he lets it go, which is 90% of the time. Has poor shooting mechanics. Rondo is even a better shooter in my mind and will become one if he becomes moor confident in his mid range jumper.

Overview- Not a PG, more of a combo guard who normally comes off the bench to ignite the offense and the crowd. Started and played a lot of minutes due to Rondo being injured.

Avery Bradley (5 min, 0-0 FG, 1 reb, 0 TP)

Overview- Solid showing today for the rookie PG out of Texas. Although he did not fill up the box score, I think the coaches liked what they saw today from Bradley. He is a very good defensive player with quick hands and feet. He pressures the ball from baseline to baseline. Reminds me of Sean Singletary because of his size and defense. He did a good job of orchestrating the offense and not trying to do too much. Hopefully now with the injury to Rondo, he can find his way into the rotation more, especially with the erratic and inconsistent play of Robinson.

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