1. Second year sensation Jaylen Brown led six Celtics who scored in double figures in a convincing win over the vastly improved Orlando Magic. Brown’s efficient 18 points was bright spot for a Boston offense that lacked it as a whole. His play on the defensive end is also worth note as he pulled down 7 boards and swiped a pair of steals. The other lead of the Cs youth movement Jayson Tatum added 13 points on 5 of 8 from the field and along with Brown played some crack defense on the Magic’s wings as well as on their breakout star Aaron Gordon.
Boston got good production from their post guys Al Horford specifically. Big Al notched a double double with 14 and 10 while draining all three of his attempts from beyond the arc. Marcus Morris getting time at center in a surprising change of pace put in 12 and 7 while spreading the defense allowing for other Cs to get high percentage attempts. Aron Baynes continues to be a bright spot off of the bench providing much needed rebounding and toughness as he contributed 6 and 7 tonight.
2. Kyrie Irving had a rare off game scoring wise only going for 11 points on 4 of 13 shooting. However, this is where Brad Stevens having a plethora of expertly prepared players comes into play. Marcus Smart had one of those games where he just decided to do everything. His line of 11-8-8 along with 3 steals and a block was exactly the kind of performance needed to successfully anchor an already strong second unit. Terry Rozier and rookie Semi Ojeleye also had quality showings. Once again Boston’s balance worked for them big time as nine of their guys played more than 15 minutes and no one reached 30. This versatility and cohesion is a large part of their current eight game winning streak.
Aside from being able to trust everyone on your roster from top to bottom having having the best best defense in the league doesn’t hurt either. Coming into this contest Boston allowed a league low 93.8 points per contest and the 88 they yielded tonight to to the Magic will no doubt improve upon this. The fact they were able to hold the 4th highest scoring team to such a paltry number is nothing short of awesome. The Cs played waffle house defense plain and simple and harassed their way into allowing one of the worst one of the worst offensive outputs in the entire league in this young season. Orlando shot 36% from the field and 20% from three this evening. A far cry from the shooting splits of 48% and 42% they’ve enjoyed this season thus far.
This has truly been a revelation for a team that was faced with replacing two plus defenders in Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley. While those two guys were great defending on ball what we’re seeing now is a defense that is heavy on help and playing tight assignment defense. Between Stevens’ mind for smart and concise basketball and the Celtics just being a collection of high IQ guys this is something that appears to be sustainable. While that’s great news for basketball lovers like us it’s horrible news for the rest of the Eastern Conference.
3. Despite tonight’s set back Orlando is still an improved bunch. Even in defeat you see a group that believes in the mission, has clear direction and plays hard until the final buzzer. These are three things that has been absent in Magictown for a loooooong time. Tonight, they ran into a team that was just better prepared and a lot more confident in their identity than they currently are. It happens. With that said, they got worked!
Aaron Gordon was the lead for O-Town with 18 very hard fought points and 12 boards. Nikola “Vucci Mane” Vucevic also nothched a double double with 13 and 10 while tossing 7 assists. Add in 14 points for Jonathan Simmons and there are all of your Magic in double figures. Not good. The worse of it was undoubtedly 35 minutes of Evan Fournier that only produces 6 points on a turrible 2 of 14 shooting and despite going a perfect 5 of 5 from the line Terrence Ross’ journey to 9 points included 2 of 12 from the field. Yikes. Rookie and Florida State product Jonathan Isaac was a rare bright spot here as his much vaunted athleticism was on full display in a 9 point, 6 rebound showing. But it wasn’t nearly enough to secure what would’ve been a huge home win for them.