The Celtics dropped their first game of their 5 game road trip tonight. It was a pretty lackadaisical effort and a disappointing loss.
There was some promise early in the game. Sully was active on defense in the first quarter. He surprised Elfrid Payton with a nice block, and came away with 3 steals too. The last steal started a beautiful fast break, until Evan Turner blew the layup. This was a microcosm of the night as a whole, and the first of many ugly plays in a rough game by Turner.
David Lee was seemingly the only Celtic who could make a shot in the second quarter. Despite his 11-point explosion, the Celtics fell down by 7. Boston's lack of rim protection was evident on a few uncontested Magic drives right through the defense.
The ball movement actually looked pretty good in the half, but turnovers, blown layups, and missed threes hurt Boston. The assist numbers were good relative to shots made, but that was kind of a hollow stat considering the circumstances.
As bad as the first half was, the second showed little improvement. Orlando hammered the Celtics on the offensive glass. The Celtics also struggled staying with Orlando's shooters. The Magic knocked down some big three point shots and extended their lead to 17.
The story on offense was largely the same. Boston couldn't buy a three point shot. All the ball movement in the world doesn't help when your shots aren't falling. The Celtics couldn't generate much offense elsewhere either. They couldn't get to rim or draw many fouls. David Lee was invisible, which was disapinting after his excellent second quarter.
By the middle of the fourth the game turned into a full on blowout. Terry Rozier looked solid in his fourth quarter minutes though. He pressured the ball well and even attacked the rim some on offense. Stevens played a lineup with Rozier, Bradley, and Thomas that was interesting at least. Not necessarily effective, but a new look. Boston flirted with cutting the deficit to single digits in garbage time, but never seriously challenged the Magic lead.
The Magic grabbed 17 offensive rebounds tonight. Combine that with Boston's pitiful 18% from deep, and it's tough to win games.
Jonas Jerebko still doesn't seem confident in his shot. He's pumping or looking to pass instead of firing away when he's open. He still does the little things well, his defense after switching onto Payton for instance, but the Celtics desperately need some three point shooting from him.
Nikola Vucevic always seems to fill up the stat sheet against Boston, and tonight was no different. He put up 19 and 10 after struggling early on in the game. The Celtics held Evan "Never Google" Fournier to just 9 points. He's Orlando's leading scorer this season, so that's your best option for a silver lining on defense tonight.
Isaiah Thomas was the leading scorer for the Celtics with 20 points, but he really struggled shooting. He was just 7-18, and only made one three pointer.
This certainly wasn't the start the Celtics were hoping for heading into this five game stretch. They'll need a much better effort tomorrow night against the Heat.