Beating the Oklahoma City Thunder at any point of the season isn't easy.
Somehow, someway, the Boston Celtics figured out how to do it, outlasting the NBA's second best offensive team in a 108-100 statement win on Friday.
Sunday's competition won't be as daunting for the up-and-down Celtics (7-6) , as they face old friend Glen Davis and the Orlando Magic (5-7) in Florida.
Orlando is in rebuilding mode after trading franchise center Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers over the summer. Somewhat surprisingly, though, the Magic haven't completely bottomed out, winning five of their first 12 games to start the season. Six players have averaged double-digit scoring, led by Aaron Afflalo's 15.3 points per game. Joining Afflalo in double figures are Davis, J.J Redick, Jameer Nelson, E'Twaun Moore and Nikola Vucevic.
Davis, now in his second season with the Magic since being traded for Brandon Bass, has also been consistent for Orlando. He's averaging 14.9 points, second most on the team, and 8.9 rebounds. Now is he Dwight Howard? No, of course not, but as Davis has proven, he can be an effective player in this league.
Another former Celtic who has been playing solid minutes is Moore, Boston's second round draft pick from last season. Moore is averaging 11.1 points.
Orlando has been picking up steam in the last five games, winning three of them after a stretch that saw it lose five in a row. On Friday, the Magic outlasted the Kyrie Irving-less Cleveland Cavaliers, 108-104, behind 22 points, six rebounds and six assists from Nelson and 16 points and eight boards from Davis.
As previously noted, Boston is also coming off a 108-point performance in their improbable win over the Kevin Durant-led Thunder. Paul Pierce turned back the clock with a vintage performance, scoring 27 on 4-of-6 shooting from long distance. Rajon Rondo approached a triple-double with six points, eight rebounds and 16 assists, extending his streak of games with double-digit assists to an NBA-leading 36 games. Kevin Garnett also played well in the second half, finishing with 18 points and nine rebounds. Boston shot 48.8 percent from the field (39-for-80) and 52.9 percent from three-point range (9-for-17).
Sunday's game tips off at 6 p.m. ET and will air on CSNNE and WEEI.
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