Sometimes, when your day just isn't going right, the simple things will get you back on track -- finishing a nice jog, or beating your toddler niece at Connect Four (that one might just be me) is the kind of confidence booster that can get you through the tougher parts of the day. Well, after a week of nothing going right against some of the best teams in the NBA, the Celtics have regained some confidence by taking care of business against two of the East's toddlers, following up a victory against the hapless Sixers with a 107-96 win over the Magic on Monday.
Before the game, it looked as if the Celtics could simply walk into a win in this one. Nikola Vucevic, the Magic's starting center and somewhat of a Celtics killer (15 points and 11 rebounds per game against the C's) was absent with a nagging groin injury, piling on to the woes of a 29 win Magic team that had already traded Tobias Harris at the deadline and failed to live up to preseason expectations of fighting for a playoff spot.
But the opening quarter was anything but a doormat for the Celtics, as they were fooled into playing at Orlando's helter-skelter pace and had little success in doing so. The Celtics were able to turn that pace into several wide open layups, a fact which masked some otherwise shaky shooting from everyone other than Isaiah Thomas. That, combined with the Celtics usual solid defense, allowed Boston to enter the second frame up 5, 22-17.
The second quarter continued at hyper speed, as a bevy of misses left both teams running up and down like they were playing on the blacktop rather than the NBA hardwood. Despite playing into Orlando's hands, the C's were able to maintain their lead thanks to Amir Johnson's presence inside (he logged his second double-double in a row and seems to have finally recovered from his Plantar Fascitis) and Kelly Olynyk's shooting, as the man bun himself burst back onto the scene with a 22 point performance to lead a somewhat anemic bench unit.
Coming out from halftime, the Celtics wanted to turn the third into yet another twelve minutes of hell for the opposition, and Isaiah Thomas brought the fire. Thomas finished with 28 points for the game (his tenth straight 20 point game) and helped secure a double digit lead going into the fourth, but it was his passing that dazzled on the day. Thomas finished with 8 assists, including several between-the-legs passes leading to layups and a nifty behind-the-back wrap around pass to Evan Turner in the corner mixed in with his usual steady point guard play.
Not to be outdone by his running mate, Avery Bradley made sure Thomas' theatrics were not in vain. A prolonged cold spell allowed the Magic to get back into the game late, trailing by as little as 6 with under five minutes to go, but Bradley (22 points) nailed a runner in the lane and a long pull up 2 to help give the Celtics some cushion. Bradley also finished with nine rebounds, combined with Thomas to score 50 points and helped lead the Celtics to a much-needed win in anticipation of a tough west-coast trip.
Brenton Bauerle 3/21/2016 09:50:00 PM Tweet Edit