Another Big Test

Boston bounced back after falling to one Eastern Conference power, but another big test looms for the Celtics.

The East-leading Celtics will try to end their recent struggles against the Orlando Magic when the teams meet in Boston on Sunday.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Boston -9.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 192.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 59% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston -9.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

The Celtics (21-3) lost at home for the first time Wednesday, 87-85 to Detroit, which owns the second-best record in the East. Boston rebounded nicely Friday, pounding Chicago 107-82 to improve to 13-1 at TD Banknorth Garden.

"What you saw tonight was what we call 'stopping the bleeding,'" said forward Kevin Garnett, who had 12 points and seven rebounds.

"When we lose, we want it to be very, very, very, very few, and we want to learn from what mistakes we made in the loss and apply it in the next game. I thought we did a good job of that."

Paul Pierce had 22 points and seven rebounds and Ray Allen added 18 points.

"The loss to Detroit left a bad taste in our mouths," Pierce said. "It didn't matter who we played tonight, we were going to come out and take it to them. It didn't matter who was in the building."

On Sunday, though, Boston gets another tough matchup in the Magic (18-10), owners of the third-best record in the conference and winners of seven of their last nine against the Celtics. The Magic beat Boston 104-102 in Orlando on Nov. 18 in the teams' first meeting this season, handing the Celtics their first loss after an 8-0 start.

"I thought we matched up pretty good with them, but the main thing is we played good defense against them," Orlando's Rashard Lewis said after that game.

The Magic, however, have dropped six of their last eight games, including Friday's 113-94 loss to Utah, after opening the season 16-4. Coach Stan Van Gundy wasn't shy about criticizing his team, which was booed by its home fans following the most recent defeat.

"We're absolutely frightened of contact - frightened," he said. "We won't put our body in front of anybody driving the ball to the basket. We don't screen anybody, we won't block anybody out. It's a soft team, and until they change the results won't change."

Hedo Turkoglu scored a season-high 27 points against the Jazz, and Dwight Howard had 20 points and 13 rebounds. Howard, who had 24 points and six boards in the win over Boston, has scored in double figures in all but one of his 28 games and posted a double-double in all but four.

Orlando dropped its fourth straight at home but has won four of six on the road, where it is 13-4 this season.

"I think whenever we're on the road, we pull together a lot more," center Adonal Foyle said. "I think we know that there's not going to be anybody pulling for us. So you have to come together and work hard."

Guard Carlos Arroyo returned Friday after missing five games with a left foot injury, but didn't play until the fourth quarter.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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