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The Read & React: come together

Defense has become the Celtics’ calling card, the rebounding has been shored up, and Marcus Morris has been seamlessly folded into the rotation.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Cassoli: Let's take a minute to appreciate Brad Stevens' masterful distribution of minutes. The Celtics were in their first game of a back-to-back, and set to travel to Atlanta following its conclusion. The coaching staff was aware of that fact, and helped to manage everyone's workloads to prevent heavy legs and weary minds.

No one on Boston's roster played more than 29 minutes, and all five of the team's starters were able to rest down the stretch. Stealing a few minutes here and there might not seem like much in an individual game, but every cut, screen, and jump exacts a physical toll. Rotations may not be a particularly sexy topic, but they're meaningful. The Celtics handled them beautifully in this one.

Romy Nehme: The Celtics are 5-1 on the road this year, but it hasn’t always been pretty. They’ve struggled to execute for stretches, have been uneven around the rim, and have managed to pull out wins more so because of disruptive defense, ace rebounding and gutsy -- sometimes reckless -- effort from guys right through the end of the bench, rather than elegant or efficient offense. That’s still to come, and I have no doubt it will.

NBA: Boston Celtics-Media Day Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

After logging exactly 0 minutes in the last game, Shane Larkin started the 4th with the Celtics up 77-69. Up until that point, the Celtics had been unable to distance themselves from the Magic, but by the 8:37 mark, the score was 87-71 and the game was well in hand. We’ve talked a lot about the Celtics’ length this season, but Larkin is a smooth P&R operator and has the ability to zip into the lane with ease, collapse the defense and quickly make the defense pay for the vulnerability he’s created:

The other thing he did extremely well tonight was pick up the Magic’s PGs full court and deny them the ball in the half court to make the Magic’s offense look that much more stuck in tar with both Payton and Augustin out.

That deserves a clap:

Bonus: if you’re still not impressed by the bang on job Ainge & Co. have done in rounding out the roster, check out highlights from Jabari Bird’s 25pts, 10reb game with the Red Claws earlier today. The kid can ball.

Bill Sy: The winning streak is impressive. The defense has been awesome. This very professional beat down of Orlando coming on the heals of that huge comeback in OKC are great signs for the rest of the season, but nothing has got me like the pic that Danny Ainge tweeted out last night:

Gordon Hayward shooting from a chair. The lights out in the gym. Man...

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