The Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic have had losing records throughout the 2014-15 NBA season, but their matchup on Sunday night might just be the most exciting contest out of a pretty good slate. Both teams are young, play with plenty of pace and have actually played decent basketball of late.
The Celtics knew that they wanted Isaiah Thomas, but even General Manager Danny Ainge might not have expected the young guard to work out as well as he has done so far. The Celtics are 5-3 since the acquisition of Thomas and are still very much in contention for a postseason place in spite of a season where they have traded away Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green, and lost Jared Sullinger to injury. Add Avery Bradley onto the absentee list for this game.
Bradley missed Friday night’s contest in New Orleans too, but it didn’t stop the Celtics. Evan Turner returned to shooting guard scoring 16 points and Thomas once again took over off the bench racking up 27 points, 14 of which came in the fourth quarter where the trade deadline acquisition has been nothing less than lethal. Boston are just two games back of the eighth spot in the East.
The Magic snapped a four-game losing streak with a 119-114 win over the Sacramento Kings on Friday. Orlando might not be competitive this year, but they ought to be pleased with how the rebuilding process is going. Backcourt duo Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton are developing very well. To say that Oladipo has been playing well in March might be something of an understatement. He started the month off with a 21-point effort against Charlotte, before back-to-back 30+ point outings against Phoenix and Sacramento.
Orlando has some injury issues to deal with right now. Evan Fournier is out, while Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris are both questionable for Sunday’s action. Vucevic and Harris are pretty important parts of this team’s ability to compete right now.
Betting Preview: Boston (-1) at Orlando
Injuries will hamper Orlando and for some reason Oladipo just hasn’t enjoyed great success against Boston (though Bradley might have something to do with that). The Celtics are rolling offensively and while making the playoffs still feels like a major long-shot, expect that strong run to continue for at least one more game.
The Pick: Boston (-1) (www.betonline.ag)
Writer’s Record Against The Spread: 31-24