The NBA season is here. With that in mind, it is time to flip through the book on the 2013-14 season and to take a look at what the season might have in store -- especially when it comes to the Magic. Be sure to look out for more of these team capsules and to check out all the blogs taking part in this year's NBA Blog Preview (don't worry, I will be linking to all of them in the next few weeks ... months ... this preview IS never-ending, afterall).
Last Year/This Year: 41-40/3-4
Last Year vs. Magic: Celtics won 116-110 in Orlando on Nov. 25; Celtics won 97-84 in Boston on Feb. 1; Celtics won 120-88 in Orlando on April 13
This Year vs. Magic: Celtics 91, Magic 89 on Nov. 8 in Orlando; Nov. 11 in Boston; Jan. 19 in Orlando; Feb. 2 in Boston
Magic Connection: Brandon Bass (Player, 2010-11), Keith Bogans (Player, 2004, 2007-09), Courtney Lee (Player, 2009)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images/Zimbio
It is kind of hard to tell exactly what direction the Celtics are going.
They shed off the weight of the big contracts and persence of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to move to the next phase. Yet there is still Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green, two solid young players to build around if they stick around.
The sentiment is the Celtics are playing for the Draft and going through a rebuilding project. However, Rondo is an extreme competitor and is not going to be satisfied with losing. And there, frankly, are not many true young players for this team to develop.
Jeff Green did not help things much when he faded to the corner and drained a 3-pointer over LeBron James on Saturday night. He was also big in Friday's win over the Magic at Amway Center. And there are plenty of veterans like Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass and Gerald Wallace who are used to winning and competing hard.
That has been the hallmark of Brad Stevens' team early on. This team fights and plays hard. Very hard.
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images/Zimbio
It started off slow with a four-game losing streak, but Boston's three consecutive wins have been very impressive. The Magic lost a double-digit lead Friday and the Celtics went toe-to-toe and punch-for-punch with the Heat on Saturday. Like the Magic, this is an incredibly scrappy squad that does not know or believe the expectations the outside have set for them.
That is what a team like Boston has to do. Turn the blinders on and play through it. Whether that falls in line with the rebuilding plan.
If the Celtics play like they have this past week, they will win games. Even some surprising ones like Saturday night's win. There is no doubt talent on this roster and professionals who will compete and play hard. Rajon Rondo's return should only heighten that desire and will tow in.
Things are working for Boston now. Probably much more than anyone expected. Stevens seems to have a good grip on his team and has his team playing the right way. It might still be a year before the Celtics rebuilding really begin. So far Stevens has put in a good foundation and the best seems yet to come with Rondo working his way back from the torn ACL.
How the Celtics Will Beat the Magic: In Friday's game, the Celtics did a good job using their size up front with Vitor Faverani, Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger to control Nikola Vucevic and the Magic's post players. They attacked the glass and seemed willing to work hard even when they were down. Vucevic dominated the first quarter with 12 points but scored just two points the rest of the way. A lot of that credit should go to the Celtics swarming defense and how they pushed Vucevic off his spot. The pressure from the post players, as well as the perimeter defenders forced the Magic into a lot of mistakes and the Celtics converted those into fast break points with Avery Bradley, Jeff Green and Jordan Crawford showing their skills in getting out on the break.
How the Magic Will Beat the Celtics: The Magic actually did some very good things against the Celtics, particularly early on. The guards did a good job attacking the basket and the defense did a good job forcing difficult jumpers and making Boston work on offense. The Magic match up well with the Celtics. It comes down to the Magic protecting the ball and forcing the Celtics to go up against their half-court defense. When that happened Friday, Orlando won the game. Turnovers and self-inflicted wounds, including missed free throws, cost the Magic the game.