Celtics Host Magic in Final Regular Season Meeting With Southeast Leaders

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Celtics Host Magic in Final Regular Season Meeting With Southeast Leaders It's Super Sunday, and the one thing that would be super for the Celtics this weekend is a win over the visiting Orlando Magic.

The C's have dropped two of their first three meetings with Orlando this season, including one last week, and they need to get this last one. After holding off the visiting Nets in the fourth quarter on Friday night, the Celtics are winners of three straight, and they'll look to make it four before they hit the road this coming week for a five-game road trip.

When and Where

Sunday, Feb. 7, 2:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.

Records

Celtics (32-16, 1st place in Atlantic Division)
Magic (33-17, 1st place in Southeast Division)

Head to Head

After splitting their first two meetings with Eastern Conference titan Orlando, the Celtics lost the third in heartbreaking fashion last week. The Celtics absolutely collapsed in the fourth quarter in Orlando on Jan. 28, blowng an 11-point fourth-quarter lead and letting Rashard Lewis coast into the lane for an easy bucket on the final possession. 96-94 final. The Celtics are running out of time to prove their mettle against the Magic this season — this is their final matchup of the year, barring a potential playoff meeting down the road.

Skinny

The Magic have started to turn things around in the past couple of weeks — last week's victory over Boston capped off a four-game winning streak, and Orlando is now back in the driver's seat in the Southeast Division race. The Magic and Hawks are going to fight this thing tooth and nail, right down to the wire, and the Celtics will be right there with them, battling it out for playoff positioning. These are the three of conference's top four teams, but in what order? It's up for grabs. Sunday's game will help us figure some things out.

Starting Lineups

Celtics
Point guard: Rajon Rondo
Shooting guard: Ray Allen
Small forward: Tony Allen
Power forward: Kevin Garnett
Center: Kendrick Perkins

Magic
Point guard: Jameer Nelson
Shooting guard: Vince Carter
Small forward: Matt Barnes
Power forward: Rashard Lewis
Center: Dwight Howard

Stat Sheet

Celtics
The Celtics are 8-6 this season against the Southeast Division, with all six losses coming against the Magic and Atlanta Hawks.

Their 414 steals rank third in the league behind the Warriors and Nuggets.

Rajon Rondo has 462 assists this season, second in the NBA only to Steve Nash's 576.

Kendrick Perkins' 62.0 percent shooting this season is not only an NBA best, but it's an improvement of 4.3 percent from last season.

Ray Allen was 5-for-5 from the free-throw line in the Celtics' win Friday over New Jersey. Allen has made 19 of his last 20 attempts from the charity stripe.

Kevin Garnett is averaging 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game since returning to the Celtics from a hyperextended knee on Jan. 22.

Paul Pierce has averaged 22.8 points and 6.8 rebounds against the Magic in his career.

Magic
The Magic are only 14-12 on the road this season.

They are second in the NBA in defensive rebounds, with 1,684, but only 26th in the league in defensive boards, with 494.

Dwight Howard has been sent to the free-throw line 523 times this season, which is most in the NBA.

J.J. Redick is shooting 41.0 percent from three-point range this season, which is both a team high and a career high.

Vince Carter made 10-of-10 free-throw attempts against the Wizards on Friday night. Carter is shooting 85.1 percent from the line this season, a career best.

Rashard Lewis is shooting 40.7 percent this season from three-point range. If he maintains this pace, it will be the fourth time in his career he tops the 40 percent mark.

Jameer Nelson is averaging 4.7 assists and 2.0 turnovers per game this season.

Black and Blue

Celtics
Paul Pierce has recovered from a left mid-foot sprain and plans to play Sunday.

Marquis Daniels is near his return from left thumb surgery. He thinks he's good to go Sunday, but his status will be a game-time decision.

Magic
Jameer Nelson made his return to the Magic on Friday night after missing Tuesday's game with a hyperextended left knee.

Mickael Pietrus, who sat out Tuesday with a sprained right ankle, also returned Friday.

Vince Carter missed three games last month with a left shoulder injury.

This Date in Celtics History

In 1960, Celtics Hall of Famer Bob Cousy tallied a career-high 46 points against the visiting New York Knicks. The Knicks shocked the C's by winning anyway, 142-135, at the Boston Garden.

Overheard

"I feel pretty good. Light practice, I'm good to go tomorrow. It's a lot better than it was yesterday, so it's improving, not quite 100 percent, but it's good enough for me to play on. It's a matter of healing, it's a little sprain, mid-foot. It really hurt, last couple days, but I've been getting necessary treatment and it's getting better every day. I feel like I could have went last game, but I'm really ready to go."
–Paul Pierce, in Saturday's Boston Globe, on the state of his left foot.

Press Box

Celtics
The Celtics held off the Nets in the fourth quarter.

Paul Pierce is good to go.

Can the C's respond to Rajon Rondo's criticism?

Magic

The Magic lost to the Wizards at home.

Stan Van Gundy is done answering questions.

Dwight Howard gets technical.

NBA
LeBron James
put on a show for the Cavaliers, winners of 11 straight.

Brandon Roy
will miss the All-Star Game.

How great is Kobe Bryant?

Outlook

Can the Celtics take care of business against an elite Eastern Conference team? To be frank, they've had a really hard time doing so this season. A win would go a long way toward restoring the C's confidence; a loss would be serious cause for concern. Boston needs this one. Getting Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels back on the floor would be a huge boost for a Celtics squad that's lacked firepower offensively. If the C's can take the court at full strength on Sunday afternoon, they'll have a good chance of making a statement win at home.

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