Game Analysis

Two of the NBA’s best defenses will go head-to-head on Friday, as the Boston Celtics travel to Orlando to play the Magic. The Celtics entre the game with key players dealing with nagging injuries. Jayson Tatum has a groin strain, Jaylen Brown is dealing with an ankle injury, and Enes Kanter has a foot injury. The trio, all listed as day-to-day, account for nearly 50 points per game, so if any or all miss time, the Celtics will have to find significant scoring punch from elsewhere on their bench. Magic star Markelle Fultz is also dealing with a minor injury, spraining a finger earlier this week. Fultz, a former No. 1 pick who struggled much of his career, has had a major turnaround for the Magic, including some spectacular games over the last month. He’s developed into a reliable complement for leading scorers Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier. Fultz is one of seven Orlando players averaging in double figures for the season, although the Magic struggle to score overall. They are 29th in the league in points per game, but make up for it on the defensive end, with the league’s best scoring defense. Both teams enter the game losing three of their last five games, and trying to climb in the playoff standings. Orlando is seventh in the East, trying to hold off eighth place Brooklyn, who trails them by just 1.5 games. The Celtics are fourth in the East, but lead surging fifth place Indiana by just one game for the final first round spot with homecourt advantage. The Celtics are also within range of the two teams immediately in front of them, trailing second place Miami by 1.5 games and third place Toronto by a half game. The Celtics are 25-16-2 against the spread this year and the Magic are 21-22-2.

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