The Boston Celtics hope to begin another winning streak when they return home to take on the struggling Orlando Magic on Friday night. The Celtics saw their 16-game run - tied for the fourth-longest in franchise history - come to an end Wednesday when they shot only 41.7 percent from the floor and 70.4 from the free-throw line in a 104-98 loss at Miami.
Boston coach Brad Stevens told reporters the 16-game streak was “a bit of a mirage” and the Celtics will try to build momentum again with six of the next seven games on their home court. Kyrie Irving continued his scoring surge with 23 points against Miami and has 100 in the last three games, but managed a season-low 11 (in games he played more than two minutes) against the Magic in a 104-88 triumph Nov. 5 - the fifth straight win for Boston in the series. Orlando, which started the season with six wins in eight games, has dropped the last six after Wednesday’s 124-118 setback at Minnesota in which it was outscored 41-18 in the third quarter. “They were able to get to their spots. They were able to get to line. We just made it too easy for them coming out of the half,’ Magic forward Aaron Gordon told reporters Wednesday.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Florida (Orlando), NBCSN Boston
ABOUT THE MAGIC (8-10): Gordon recorded 26 points and added nine rebounds Wednesday and sits second on the team in scoring (18.0) behind guard Evan Fournier (19.0), who matched his average against Minnesota. Center Nikola Vucevic (16.9 points, 7.8 rebounds) registered his third double-double in four games and team-high seventh on the season last time out. First-round pick Jonathan Isaac (sprained ankle) missed the last five games while guard Mario Hezonja (head) has been out the last two contests, and both are questionable for Friday.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (16-3): Boston is in the bottom third of the league in points scored per game (102.6), but leads the NBA in scoring defense (95.3) despite allowing an average of 101.7 the last three contests. Irving tops five players scoring in double figures at 22.5 per contest while second-year pro Jaylen Brown (16.1 points, 6.5 rebounds) and rookie Jayson Tatum (14.2 points) continue to impress on both ends. Forward Marcus Morris did not start Wednesday’s game because of a sore knee, but came off the bench to contribute 14 points in 21 minutes.
1. Orlando G Terrence Ross, who is shooting only 40.5 percent from the field, had a season-high 22 points Wednesday.
2. Boston PF Al Horford (13.8 points, 8.8 rebounds per game this season) recorded a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) in the victory over Orlando earlier this month.
3. The Magic allowed fewer than 100 points four times during the first eight games of the season and twice in the last 10.
PREDICTION: Celtics 108, Magic 98