After a first quarter that seemed all too familiar for the Celtics, the team got back on track Sunday against the Orlando Magic. Improved ball movement and defensive intensity opened up the game for the Celtics in a 112-96 win.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were hitting their shots, tough or open, against the Magic. Brown finished with 10 three-pointers and 34 points, with his counterpart scoring 23. But, the team-wide shift came in the second and third quarters, where the Celtics found their offensive rhythm and finally displayed some life on offense.
That new-found offensive chemistry was a byproduct of a great game from Daniel Theis.
Early, Boston showed flashes of improvement on the offensive end, evident in this give-and-go between Marcus Smart and Theis.
The Magic were able to get off to an early lead because Boston continually settled for tough shots. For the most part, Tatum and Brown were making them, but the lack of off-ball movement and gambling on defense led to some easy points for Orlando.
After an offensive rebound in the first, the Celtic defense were caught standing and ball-watching. Marcus Smart is exasperated with his hands in the air as Al-Farouq Aminu is able to glide freely through the paint for an and-1 layup.
The pivotal 29-17 second quarter for the Celtics came on the strength of the three ball, especially considering Orlando refused to get over Theis’ high screens. Getting Tatum and Brown alone with a Theis screen was commonplace in the middle periods.
Theis uses his size advantage here over Fournier, who can’t get around the crafty big. Brown and Tatum began the night needing to hit pull-up shots to energize the offense – which was very stagnant initially. With a good screen, Brown takes advantage of the soft spot in the 2-1-2 zone.
As the game progressed and the Celtics defense began to play better as a whole, the offense opened up even more for Boston, who hit over 20 3-pointers for the sixth time in franchise history.
When the defense crashes in on Theis, leaving Grant Williams wide open on a double-team, Smart sees Ennis and Carter-Williams ignoring their man, assuming Theis will shoot. Theis sees Smart and puts the ball on him in mid-air. An excellent read by Theis puts Smart in a position to make a great pass, and with just one more, Aaron Nesmith hits a three.
Theis’ versatility opens this play up, and Smart’s IQ makes it a team highlight.
Brown stuffed the stat sheet, but on plays where there’s good movement and smart basketball being played, it’s Daniel Theis who was consistently there for the Celtics. Sporting a game-high plus/minus of +27, Theis made great use of his minutes against Orlando.