For the second year in a row, the Boston Celtics are in Orlando to take on the Magic in a Christmas Day matchup. It marks the third consecutive year that Boston has played on Christmas Day -- the Celtics had their franchise-best 19-game win streak snapped by the Lakers in 2008 and last season, Boston downed Orlando.
This time around, the Celtics are looking once again to continue a long winning streak, riding 14-consecutive wins into their Christmas Day game with the Magic in Orlando at 2:30 p.m. EST (ABC). The Magic are just 2-8 in their past 10 games, but Thursday night they defeated the San Antonio, snapping the Spurs' 10-game win streak.
The Celtics will be facing a new-look Magic team, with recently acquired Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu now on the roster after a three-team trade between them, the Suns and Wizards. Gone are Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter, sent off to Washington and Phoneix, respectively.
The Celtics-Magic contest is just one of five NBA games on Christmas, along with Bulls-Knicks, Heat-Lakers, Nuggets-Thunder and Blazers-Warriors -- 12 hours of basketball. Unlike Lakers coach Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers enjoys playing on Christmas Day.
"Honestly, when you play on Christmas Day, some guys are upset over it because you can't spend time with your family," Rivers said. "I look at it as a privilege. The fact that they asked us to play on Christmas means we're one of the good teams, one of the featured teams. I wish they would reduce the games on Christmas. I thought it was more special when it was two games. Now it's up to five, six, or seven games. That's too many."
While Boston will be without Rajon Rondo -- Rivers has already said he's out: "He's not going to make it back in two weeks; it doesn't sound like it." -- it's likely that Jermaine O'Neal will suit up and play for the first time since Nov. 8.
Paul Pierce and Ray Allen hope to continue their red hot play. Allen had a very good performance against the 76ers earlier this week with 22 points and Pierce has dished out at least 10 assists in two of his last three games and has been in double figures in four of his last five games.
Saturday marks the first of three regular season matchups between the Celtics and Magic this season. Boston beat Orlando in the Eastern Conference Finals last year, 4-2; the Magic got the better of the Celtics in 2008-09, winning the Eastern Conference Semifinals in seven games.
The Celtics and Magic tip-off at 2:30 p.m. EST on ABC at the Amway Center.