With the NBA’s Thursday trade deadline looming, there’s a lot of uncertainty around the league. A lot of teams don’t know which players they will keep and which they will lose, and players themselves aren’t sure whether they’ll be on the move or not.
Both the 22-28 Orlando Magic and the 34-15 Boston Celtics have been pretty active in trade discussions over the past few days. They will be meeting in Boston today on the eve of the trade deadline for a potential first-round playoff series preview (7:30 p.m. ET Wednesday on ESPN).
Orlando recently snapped a five-game losing streak against tough opponents with a road win against the Charlotte Hornets. The Celtics are on a four-game winning streak of their own, a stretch that included an impressive road win over the Miami Heat and a beatdown of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Let’s talk about some key factors surrounding this game before we preview it from a betting perspective and give our Orlando Magic vs Boston Celtics predictions.
Will Trade Discussions Factor Into the Outcome Of This Game?
Both the Magic and Celtics have reportedly been engaged in trade discussions leading up to Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. We too often disregard the human element of basketball, but trade rumors can influence the way players play, and specifically how they play together.
Orlando has reportedly shown interest in trading for point guard Dennis Smith Jr. of the New York Knicks, and the Magic’s own forward Aaron Gordon has apparently been involved in trade discussions. Things like this could affect current Magic point guard Markelle Fultz, who has played well recently, as well as Gordon himself.
Boston has been linked to forward Davis Bertans of the Washington Wizards and center Clint Capela of the Houston Rockets. While Boston’s frontcourt rotation for this game is affected by injuries, the current forwards and centers on the Celtics team could either be motivated or hurt by the prospect of being traded or replaced with new talent.
Will Nikola Vucevic Have His Inside-Out Game Going?
Vucevic is often overlooked when people discuss the best offensive centers in the NBA. Now, the Magic big man has declined some since his All-Star campaign last year, but he still possesses a lot of skill. In fact, he is the only player in the NBA averaging at least 29 points, 4 offensive rebounds and 5 assists per 100 possessions.
When Vucevic has his three-point shot falling to complement his post scoring and passing, he is a much more effective player and he breathes life into an anaemic Orlando offense. He shoots 41.6 percent from three in the Magic’s wins this season, compared to only 30.3 percent in the Magic’s losses.
The Celtics will be without big men Daniel Theis and Robert Williams in this game due to injury. That likely means a lot of Enes Kanter at center for Boston. Kanter can defend near the basket decently, but he’s a disaster when he has to step out near the three-point line. That’s why Vucevic’s shooting is extra important in this game.
Vucevic also needs to stay confident in his post game for the times when Kanter sits, because the Celtics have shown that they are willing to play very small lineups with players such as Grant Williams and Semi Ojeleye at center.
Will Jayson Tatum’s Outside Shot Fall for Him?
Tatum is an Eastern Conference All-Star and a budding two-way star at just 21 years old. The fact that he plays such a big role for one of the NBA’s best teams is a major testament to his ability at such a young age.
However, he is not quite at the superstar level yet. Offensive inconsistency still holds him back at times, as his shot selection and overall shooting consistency leave some room for improvement.
Since Christmas, Tatum has averaged 24.3 points in the Celtics’ 12 wins, making 37 of his 77 three-point attempts (48.1 percent). In six Boston losses since Christmas, his scoring average is just 16.8 points per game, and he has shot only 5-of-28 (17.9 percent) from downtown.
Tatum is a very dangerous offensive player when he has the confidence to make his outside shots, because he becomes a true three-level scorer who is also an improving passer. Of course, if Tatum is off from the outside, he continues to fire away and often takes bad shots. Orlando will have a great chance to win this game in that case.
Our Betting Preview’s Orlando Magic vs Boston Celtics Predictions & Picks Verdict
I feel that the uncertainty leading up to the trade deadline may level the playing field a bit in all matchups that appear slightly lopsided on paper. This one certainly qualifies. Combine that with Boston’s injury issues and I think Orlando should be in decent shape for this contest.
Also, the Celtics’ severe lack of big man depth could haunt them in this game with the size and athleticism Orlando has in its frontcourt. The Magic may not win, but they’ll put up a strong fight. These are the Orlando Magic vs Boston Celtics predictions for this preview:
- Boston is favored by 8 points with the leading U.S. sports betting sites. I think you should bet on the Magic +8pts @ -105 with Bovada.
- Boston’s lack of frontcourt depth will cause the squad to play faster and be forced to play smaller lineups that may be more conducive to lots of scoring. Even when traditional big man Enes Kanter is in the game for the Celtics, his presence often leads to a lot of points for both teams with his offensive-minded approach. I recommend bettingthe over 212pts @ -110 with BetOnline.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.