Three things to watch as the Celtics host the Magic tonight in a possible playoff preview:
Baby is back
One player who had been benefitting from Howard's absence is former Celtics forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis. Davis, who was coming off the bench has seen his playing time increase from about 22 minutes per game to well over 30 in April.
But Davis will be a game-time decision after hyper-extending his knee on Sunday against the Cavs. On the year, Davis is averaging 8.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. But the C's aren't missing him, as the player they traded him for, Brandon Bass, has done an excellent job as the team's starting power forward since the All-Star Break. Bass is averaging 12.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, and is a more consistent and dependable player than Davis.
Dwight Howard or not, the Celtics have owned the Magic over the years. The C's already own the tiebreaker with Orlando, after winning the first two games of the season. But it's still important. Going into Tuesday night's game against the Knicks, the C's, Magic, and Hawks all had identical records of 36-25 in a three-way race to the No.4 spot and home-court advantage in the first round. For that reason alone the C's will be ready to take care of business, when they've been known to play down to an opponent missing key players.
Dwight Howard saga
Perhaps no NBA player's stock has taken a bigger PR hit this season than Dwight Howard's. Does he want to stay in Orlando? Does he want a trade? Did he really try to get his coach, Stan Van Gundy, fired? And why has his production taken a dive this season, prior to the herniated disk? These are all questions that follow Howard wherever he goes. But he won't be here in Boston tonight (8 p.m., CSNNE) -- or playing at least. Howard is out indefinitely with a herniated disk, and the only hope for the Magic is that he can return for the playoffs. What a mess.