With a 10-game win streak on the line, the Boston Celtics traveled to Amway Center to take on the Orlando Magic. Boston was kicking off a Florida back-to-back with Malcolm Brogdon (personal reasons), Marcus Smart (left ankle sprain), and Robert Williams (left knee injury management) all out of the fold. Back in December, the Celtics fell in two straight games to the Magic, and Monday night’s matchup gave Boston a chance at redemption.
Undermanned and overwhelmed, the Celtics got manhandled by the Magic, falling 113-98 in their third straight loss to Orlando. The Magic became the first team to win their season series against the Celtics, and Boston will have a quick turnaround into a matchup against the Miami Heat Tuesday night.
“They upped the pressure, and we got some good looks, but too many careless turnovers,” said Jaylen Brown after the loss. “That’s what led to them transition scoring, and a lot of that’s on me and that stuff. Just being nonchalant, and Orlando took advantage of that tonight.”
Boston was down two of their better ballhandlers in Brogdon and Smart, and the team’s offense took a noticeable hit. When some foul calls started going against the Celtics, frustrations mounted and it was evident that the team let officiating get under their skin. Beyond their impact on offense, both Brogdon and Smart help steady the ship and reel everyone in when they start to lose focus and composure, and their presence was sorely missed in that department on Monday.
“They’re an unorthodox team to play against,” said Brown on the Orlando Magic, “They’ve got that Toronto kind of feel but longer. Kinda like how Cleveland was last year. A lot of bigs, a lot of length, guys who can cover ground and get a lot of deflections. Tough team to play against.”
The Cavaliers and Magic are in a similar boat in terms of how their rosters are assembled, with plenty of size and athleticism that poses a massive problem for the Celtics. With no Robert Williams, Boston was turning to Blake Griffin, Luke Kornet and even Mfiondu Kabengele for rotational minutes, with underwhelming results. Those two teams took advantage of and exposed Boston’s lack of size, which may be a weakness that the Celtics will need to address at the deadline or buyout market.
“We’ve got guys in and out of the lineup,” said Brown on the Celtics navigating injuries. “With different injuries and just…