The NBA season is here. With that in mind, it is time to flip through the book on the 2012-13 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: 39-27
Last Year vs. Magic: Won 87-56 in Boston on Jan. 23; Won 91-83 in Orlando on Jan. 26; Won 102-98 in Boston on April 18.
This Year vs. Magic: Nov. 25 in Orlando (6 p.m.); Feb. 1 in Boston (7:30 p.m.); April 13 in Orlando (7 p.m.)
Magic Connection: Brandon Bass (player, 2009-2011), Courtney Lee (player, 2008-2009), Darko Milicic (player, 2006-2007), Head Coach Doc Rivers (head coach, 1999-2003), Assistant Coach Tyronn Lue (player, 2003-04)
It is kind of sad thinking about how the Magic and Celtics rivalry is kind of ending. There was some legitimate distaste between the two teams -- luckily Dwight Howard can keep hating Celtics green in a Lakers uniform -- that carried over off the court. Does anyone remember Paul Pierce's statements after the 2009 Finals when he called the Magic poodles going up against the pit bull that was the Lakers?
The 2010 Eastern Conference Finals only served to make that rivalry go deeper. And the Magic continued to fight off the Celtics into the 2011 season before the wheels finally came off.
Last year, Boston showed Orlando's true colors. A record-breaking low performance in Boston were the first sign of some real trouble with the Magic as they shot nearly 30 percent and scored only 56 points. A few days later, the Magic bounced back at home to get a 27-point lead only to see the Celtics storm back and take the lead and the win.
One of these titans was going up and one was going down. It was clear which direction Orlando was going after that week.
Boston though went through its own transition this offseason. Ray Allen decided to leave Bean Town and chase his championship in MIami. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo remain however. And they brought in Courtney Lee and Jason Terry for reinforcements. The Celtics are still invested in winning a championship with this group and this era.
And they are going to give it one last run.
The constant theme once again with Boston will be defense. Kevin Garnett, when healthy, is still one of the top defenders in the league and sets the tone for his team. Pierce and Terry have a certain amount of championship grit about them. And Doc Rivers continues to get the most out of his players.
Midway through last season, everyone had the Celtics left for dead. Everyone called them over the hill and done. Maybe the Celtics lucked out by not facing the Bulls with a healthy Derrick Rose, but the Celtics looked as good as they did in 2008 in pushing the Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Boston's Big Three would not go out without a fight. And this new team will not either. The Celtics are not going to take a dip even with the loss of Ray Allen.
How the Celtics Will Beat the Magic: We are foresseing some offensive problems for the Magic this year. So the Celtics' biggest strength -- their defense -- will be on full display against the Magic. Without a bruising athletic forward who can score at will and get others involved (named LeBron James), there is very little the Magic can do to break down this Celtics defense. If Boston plays its defensive gameplan, Boston should be able to dispose of Orlando relatively easy and keep Orlando off the board. The Celtics have an advantage at just about every position, making this a very difficult matchup.
How the Magic Will Beat the Celtics: Several of the Celtics bloggers express their biggest concern as age and injuries. With experience comes a lot of those problems. Boston has survived injuries in the past during the regular season to be healthy during the Playofs. The Magic can always hope to get lucky on that front (or not, as Orlando learned when it lost to Boston without Rajon Rondo last season). Really, Orlando's best bet to beat Boston is to run and get points before Boston can get set in its defense. Without a matchup advantage, the Magic have to try and create one or beat the Celtics down the floor. Easier said than done. But such a relentless offensive attack might wear down Boston, particularly if Orlando catches Boston on a back-to-back.