The Boston Celtics notched a win in their first matchup with Orlando this season. It was an up-tempo game early on. Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller got into a scoring rhythm early, combining for 15 points in the first seven minutes. Rajon Rondo had a pretty sloppy first quarter though with four turnovers. Boston shot 70% from the field, but only lead by one point at the end of the first. The Celtics cooled off in the second and allowed the Magic to take a 10 point lead. Luckily the 9/0/8/7/41 lineup came in and changed the momentum going into halftime. Their aggressive defense and five made 3s led to a 19-6 run, giving the Celtics a 56-53 lead.
Boston only allowed 20 points in the third and extended their lead to five points. Boston came out hot in the fourth quarter. Stevens played the entire bench to start the quarter, and they responded well. They created a lead and actually help it for a while. This allowed the starters to get rest in a rare blowout win for Boston.
Here are some quick takeaways from the game tonight:
With the "days without a workplace trade rumor" sign reset to zero, Rondo had a nice game tonight. He didn't look great to start, but turned it around as the game progressed. He played much better after coming off the bench and nearly put together a triple-double.
The Boston reserves had a really nice game. They combined for 50 points and put the Celtics out to a double digit lead in the fourth quarter. Olynyk and Bass led the way with 15 and 18, respectively.
3 Point Defense
The Magic were 5th in the NBA in 3P%, which posed a threat because Boston has struggled all year defending the 3. Teams were making 37% of their 3 point attempts against the Celtics coming into this game.
The Celtics actually won this matchup, with the exception of Channing Frye's early performance. Frye leads the Magic in 3 point attempts this year, and he was getting open looks early. The Celtics were often recovering too late to effectively contest his shots, which allowed him to make 3/5 threes in the first half. But, the Celtics responded and we didn't see a Kyle Korver-esque performance out of him. They held without a single made 3 point shot in the second half. The Magic as a team only shot 26%, which is very impressive for the Boston defense.
Can anyone guard Nikola Vucevic?
The showdown between Nikola Vucevic and the Boston bigs resulted looked like decisive victory for Vucevic early on. He scored 12 points in the first, and grabbed an absurd six offensive rebounds. The Boston defense responded though and held him to just 6 points the rest of the game. They threw some double-teams at him in the post and prevented a potentially huge game for Vucevic.
Streaks and Slumps
Green has been averaging 23 PPG for the month of December, and his scoring touch continued tonight. He had 16 points, on 6 of 14 shooting. Not a bad game, but not quite up to his recent performance.
Kelly Olynyk followed up his career-best performance against the Sixers with 15 points tonight. He made 2 of 4 on his 3 point attempts, continuing his excellent long distance shooting this year.
Thankfully Sullinger's scoring slump ended tonight. He scored 16 points, which is more than his last 4 games combined.
Avery Bradley still isn't shooting very well, but he made some defensive plays tonight. Despite his quiet game, he was an incredible +23 tonight.
We had a Gerald Wallace sighting! His emphatic block at the end of the 1st quarter was nice, but that was really it from his appearance.
It's refreshing to see the Celtics put away a game in the fourth quarter. Even though it's just Orlando and Philadelphia, I'm glad to see a winning streak again.