National Basketball Association
Orlando at Boston
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, January 21, 2018
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
The Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics hit a bit of a snag recently with losses in back-to-back home games and need a win over the visiting Orlando Magic on Sunday to avoid being swept on the three-game homestand. The Magic are sitting at the bottom of the East and are losers of eight of nine after a comeback effort fell just short at Cleveland on Thursday.
Boston coach Brad Stevens called out his team's effort on the offensive end after Thursday's 89-80 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, but guard Marcus Smart would like to see the team put in a better effort on both sides of the court. "We need to play harder on both ends," Smart told reporters. "That's two games opposing bigs come in and really control the game and that takes a team effort. We were leaving guys on islands and forcing everybody to fend for themselves. On the offensive end we got real stagnant tonight, trying to find it. Instead of being basketball players we became robots." The Magic don't have an offensive big man in the middle with Nikola Vucevic (broken hand) out but still managed to knock off Minnesota on Tuesday and battle all the way back from a 20-point halftime deficit in Thursday's 104-103 loss to the Cavaliers. "We've had three games in a row where we feel like we've played well, but we're not into moral victories," Orlando point guard Elfrid Payton told the team's website. "But, especially at this time of the season, we feel like we've got to win these games and find a way to pull these games out as much as possible."TV:
1 p.m. ET, FS Florida (Orlando), NBCS BostonABOUT THE MAGIC (13-32):
Orlando was competitive against potential playoff teams in each of its last four games, with single-digit losses at Milwaukee and Washington coming in front of the win at home over Minnesota. "I think we're slowly starting to figure things out," point guard Shelvin Mack told the team's website. "It's been tough with a lot of injuries and guys in and out, but we're slowly starting to get a groove with one another and give ourselves a chance to win. That's all you can ask for in the NBA." Payton, who averaging 12.9 points, led the team with 19 on Thursday and is 21-of-34 from the floor over the last three games.ABOUT THE CELTICS (34-12):
Boston point guard Kyrie Irving was named an All-Star starter on Thursday but sat out the loss to the Philadelphia 76ers due to shoulder soreness. "Structurally, everything is good in my shoulder and I'm (going to) do what's best, take a few days to strengthen it up even more and then try to give it a go Sunday," Irving told reporters. "... Just precautionary stuff and just making sure everything is alright from a strength perspective." Irving leads the team in scoring at 24.1 points but is shooting 35.4 percent from the floor in five games this month.BUZZER BEATERS
1. Magic SG Arron Afflalo will sit out Sunday while serving the second of a two-game league suspension for throwing a punch in Tuesday's win over the Timberwolves.
2. Celtics SG Jaylen Brown is 8-of-31 from 3-point range in six games this month.
3. Boston took the first two meetings this season by an average of 15.5 points.PREDICTION:
Celtics 109, Magic 92
Stats and Records