The eyes of all Boston Celtic (30-9) fans will be on superstar Kevin Garnett, who is expected to be back in the lineup tonight against the Orlando Magic (26-14) after the big man missed nine games.
Garnett went through a full practice on Sunday.
However, the Celts’ other celebrated big man, Shaquille O’Neal, is likely to miss the Magic’s inaugural visit to TD Garden. Shaq missed Sunday’s practice due to strained leg muscle.
The Magic beat the Celts in their last match-up on Christmas Day.
Without Garnett in the lineup, Boston won 6 games, while losing only three.
Also, reserve center Jermaine O’Neal may be out for the season with knee surgery.
The play-by-play follows:
10:54: Game over; Boston wins 109-106.
10:53: Richardson misses a 3-point attempt. Howard goes to line. He makes first; makes both.
10:51:Allen fouled and hits both free throws,Celts up by 5 with 11 seconds left.
10:49: 39 seconds left. Magic miss, Celts steal ball!
10:47: Pierce makes it, Celts by 3!
10:45: Nelson ties game! Pierce hits two and is fouled!
10:39:KG is fouled. He makes both free throws. Celts take 2-point lead.
10:37: Howard hits 2nd free throw, game tied. Magic miss 3 attempts. 1:15 left in game.
10:38: Boston leads by 1 with less than 2 minutes left.Howard misses free-throw.
10:36: Magic in lead by 1. Celts gain possession. Garnett makes easy score.Turkoglu again hits jumper! Allen answers with 3!
10:35:Magic have 2-point lead. Celts score a three! Orlando responds with own 3!
10:33: Game tied at 93. Magic banks one in!
10:31: Shaq called for foul.
10:28: Jason Richardson hits a 3! Lead down to 3.Rondo misses, Magic score! 1-point game!
10:26: Celts by 6; 93-87.
10:24: Turkoglu misses uncontested jumper.Allen scores! Celts up by 4. Big Baby muscles for a basket!
10:23: Shaq's legacy is mixed. One of the most dominant centers ever; but unable to get along with star teammates (see Kobe). Still, a guaranteed Hall of Famer.
10:21: This might be Shaq's last year in league. Celts' Big Three (Garnett, Pierce, Allen) also on downside of their careers.
10:20: Celts up by 2.
10:18: Notorious poor free-throw shooter Shaq scores! Celts up by 4. Magic scores easy lay-up. 9;19 left in game.
10:17: Ex-Knick Nate Robinson enters game. Magic scores. Shaq scores and is fouled.
10:14: Allen hits free throw. Big Baby follows with field goal. Celts by 3. Celts steal ball!
10:11: Game tied yet again (at 81). 3rd quarter ends.
10:09: Big Baby scores for Celts! Daniels also scores, Boston by 4. Turkoglu hits a 3!
10:07: Turkoglu fouled by Celtics. Game knotted at 77.
10:05: Orlando takes lead on Turkoglu free throw. Rondo on bench.Celts take lead.
10:03: Van Gundy implores his team to play harder. KG on bench. Shaq misses layup.
10:00: Game tied at 73. Garnett misses jumper. No it bounces in!
9:57: Game tied at 71. Very closely fought game. Allen scores a difficult jumper.
9:55: Magic ties game at 69. Garnett at free throw line. He makes both. Howard answers with quick basket.
9:52: Celts take lead; fans scream defense! Magic score. Game tied at 65. Garnett scores! Rondo steals ball and scores!
9:50: Game tied at 61. Turkoglu gets 1st field goal. Celts quickly answer. Shaq has feuded with Howard for years.
9:48: Magic takes lead. Pierce scores! Nelson answers for Orlando
9:45: Third quarter begins. Celts score; Pierce called for foul. Magic throws airball. Celts gain possession.
9:44: MLK gained his phd in Boston in 1951. Boston long characterized as hostile to blacks. Red Sox last baseball team to field black player (in 1958, 11 years after Jackie Robinson's debut).
9:30: Celts are the Yankees of basketball; most iconic and succesfuL franchise in NBA history.
9:28: At half-time Celts ahead 55-54.
9:28: Shaq is 38 and on his 5th team.
9:26: Celts time out.
9:24: Celts ahead by 5. Magic misses. Celts called for technical foul.
9:21: Celts almost steal ball! 1 minute left in half. Garnett called for holding foul, his third. KG goes to bench.
9:19: Ray Allen makes 2 free-throws. Celtics take lead 50-48. Big Baby scores!Howard misses easy shoit. Celts by four.
9:17: Howard misses free throw; game tied 48-48.
9:15: Magic in narrow lead 47-46.
9:13: Orlando takes time-out in closely fought game.
9:11: Game tied 46-46.
9:10: Garnett called on foul. Howard at foul line. He misses.
9:08: Pierce scores, he is 3rd all-time leading scorer in Celtics history. Howard again at foul line. Game tied 44-44. Howard misses free throw.
9:07: Howard ties game with free throw.
9:05: Celts steal ball, But fail to convert.
9:04: Howard cuts lead to 42-41.
8:59: Boston leads 40-39.
8:59: Shaq is back on floor. Agent Zero on floor for Orlando.
8:58: Magic fouled. Bass scores free-throw. Howard re-enters game,
8:57: Boston ahead 36-32. Ray Allen on bench..
8:55:Celts coach Doc Rivers screams do your job! at his players.KG and Shaq on bench.
8:51: Celts up by three now.
8:49: Redick scores for Magic on nice outside jumper! Paul Pierce makes easy lay-up.
8:46: Garnett makes at least $26-million per year.Magic coach Van Gundy says his team doing terrible job in rotation. He was pushe out of Miami Heat job by Pat Riley, Orlando takes lead 28-27!
8:45: Lakers-Celtics finals would be phenomenal, pitting Shag againsy his nemesis Kobe Bryant,
8:43: Howard scores on put back. Rondo on bench. Celts lead cut to 27-22.
8:44: Sloppy play by Magic.Howard misses. Boston ahead 27-17.
8:42: Celts airball. Magic ball, scores.
8:42: Celts ahead 24-14.
8:42: Celts ahead 20-12. Howard scores on alley-oop! Pierce answers with slam dunk!
8:41: Celts filled with future Hall of Famers.
8:36: Howard scores for Magic! Celts steal ball, but cant convert.
8:34: Celts last in rebounding in NBA. Magic close gap to 15-10.
8:31: Kendrick Perkins on bench with injury. Jameer Nelson scores for Orlando.
8:30: Shaq began illustrious career in Orlando, Has had feud witth Magic coach Van Gundy and with center Howard.
8:29: Garnett scores! Celts in control 15-6.
8:27: Celts lead 13-6.
8:26: Rajon Rondo hits jumper!
8:25: Jason Richardson of Magic is fouled.
8:24: Boston leads 9-4.
8:22: Dwight Howard scores!
8:21: Shaq converts free throw. Boston leads 7-2.
8:20: Magic hits 2 free throws. Shaquille O'Neal is at center for Boston.
8:18: Celtics score first. Ray Allen converts, Celts up 4-0.
8:17: Tragic deaths of black players Len Bias (in 1986) and Reggie Lewis (in early '90s) likely hurt development of black Celtic stars.
8:16: Ex-coach Red Auerbach always defended Celtics by saying he put best players on court; dismissed allegations of racism.
8:15: Celtics racist image was intensified in 1980s when they had white stars like Bird, Waltom and Ainge.
8:12: Garnett is back, Celtics have best record in Eastern Conference.
8:10: Celtics have long been assailed for racial insensitivity, although they had the first all-black starting five and the first black coach (Bill Russell).
8:09: Barkley notes that blacks of previous generations did all the heavy lifting to make it easier for younger blacks.
8:07: Barkley notes that MLK died at only 39 and left such a tremendous legacy.
8:02: Bernice King, MLK's daughter, says that her father was a global humanitarian. Webber notes he collects black American memorabilia.
8:00 PM: Charles Barkley says that since the NBA is 80 percent black, playing on MLK day is an honor. Chris Webber concurs,
7:50 pm: These two perennial playoff participants haven't played since a memorable matchup on Christmas day. Plus superstar Kevin Garnett is expected to return after a 9-game absence from injury.
7:46 pm: The game between the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic will begin in 15 mins.