Celtics punch off their 8th straight win as they knock off the Magic, 104-88

The Boston Celtics took the lead in the 2nd quarter and never looked back as they rattled off their 8th straight victory with a win over the Orlando Magic, 104-88. They are now the 1st team in NBA history to lose their first two games and then win the next 8.

Jaylen Brown led the way for the C's, scoring 18 points on 7 of 13 shooting (3 of 5 from three) to go along with 7 rebounds and a pair of steals. Marcus Smart recorded a near triple-double 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists as well as a trio of steals as he was a menace on both ends of the floor and finished a game-high +26. Al Horford's hot shooting carried over from Friday night as he went 5 for 8 for 14 points, including 3 for 3 from downtown, while pulling down 10 rebounds for his 2nd double-double of the season. Kyrie Irving was quiet with 11 points and 5 assists and Marcus Morris notched 12 points and 7 rebounds in his first start for the Celtics.

For the Magic, Aaron Gordon scored 18 points and grabbed 12 boards to go with them. Nikola Vucevic did a little bit of everything with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists while Jonathon Simmons chipped in with 14 points.

The Celtics started the game with a change to the starting lineup as Morris started in the place of Aron Baynes, although Baynes was the first off the bench after Horford tweaked his ankle in the opening minutes and was subbed out shortly after. But a little over a minute later Horford returned after a brief examination from the Celtics training staff, then buried the first three of the game for the C's.

It's a good thing for the Celtics that Horford returned, as he was directly responsible for more than half of their 1st quarter offense. He scored 9 points and dropped a dime to Jaylen Brown for an open three that helped the C's to a 22-20 advantage after a low scoring opening frame for both teams.

The Celtics opened up a 10-0 run midway through the 2nd quarter that culminated in this combination of good defense and hustle from Morris, followed by a great outlet from Marcus Smart to Jayson Tatum for a fast break jam:

The Celtics used that momentum to propel themselves to an 11-point halftime lead. Irving lead the C's with 10 points despite starting the game 0 for 4 from three, and Smart was his usual bulldog-self hounding the Magic on defense as he tallied a pair of steals to go along with his 6 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds heading into the break.

The Magic got off to a good start in the 3rd, as thy shook off their poor shooting from the 1st half. A pair of threes, plus a pair of three-point plays cut the Celtic lead down to 4 with 5:17 left in the 3rd, but a monster 3rd quarter from Jaylen Brown, including a couple of big threes and a three-point play himself, helped keep the C's up 8 heading into the 4th, 77-69.

Brown finished the 3rd with 11 points shooting a perfect 4 for 4 from the floor.

Brad Stevens rolled out another unique lineup early in the 4th, with Smart, Terry Rozier, and Shane Larkin all sharing the floor with Baynes and Morris. The C's ripped off a 12-2 run with that lineup, making Stevens look like a basketball genius yet again while his team reached it's largest lead to that point with 6:23 to go in the game (89-75, C's).

From that point the rout was on. The Celtics lead reached 21 with under 3 minutes to go and both teams cleared their benches to finish the night. Not only did the C's punch off their 8th straight victory, but this also marks the 8th game in a row in which their defense held their opponent to under 100 points.

The defense is already miles better than last year's Celtics squad. They are the real deal.

Related: Celtics title plans - this season and next

Photo Credit - USA Today

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