Orlando, Fla. — The Celtics have found their kryptonite in the form of young magic as they lose 113-98 on Monday at the Amway Center. It was the third time in four games the Celtics fell to the Magic this season as the two teams completed their season series.
The Boston loss broke the C’s nine-game winning streak, falling to 35–13 on the season. The Magic have also won the last three games against the Celtics, including two at TD Garden.
The Magic took an early lead of 14 points because the Celtics didn’t have much energy. The visitors bounced back on a 16-1 run to seal a close game. But after Jayson Tatum went to the locker room with an apparent injury, the Magic once again pulled out to a two-point lead in the second half, though he came back. The Celtics were then unable to complete the comeback as they lost for the first time since January 3.
The Celtics were without Marcus Smart (ankle sprain), Malcolm Brogdon (personal reasons) and Robert Williams III (manage left knee). This meant that C’s coach Joe Majulla changed his rotation as some bench players performed well in their extra minutes.
Tatum led with 26 points while Jaylen Brown had 26. Sam Hauser recently snapped the slump with 13 points. Paolo Banchero had 23 points and Wendell Carter Jr. had 21 points for the Magic.
The Celtics end their three-game road trip with a 7:30 p.m. game against the Heat in Miami as part of a back-to-back. Here are four takeaways from Boston’s loss to Orlando:
When Tatum went down with a rib injury midway through the third quarter, it changed the complexion of the game. The Celtics led by two points, but the Magic quickly went on a 10–0 run. Once Tatum checked back, he hit a 3-pointer to stunt Orlando’s momentum. Tatum is Boston’s MVP, and his importance was clear on Monday. Tatum finished plus-six in his 37 minutes, despite the Magic’s two-point win. But he was not able to lead the Celtics to victory on Monday.
lean on the bench
With the Celtics missing several rotation players, Majulla worked hard on a bench that has produced for the team recently. This resulted in Peyton Pritchard getting a productive 30 minutes, recording five points, four assists and three rebounds. Hauser got his first game minutes in a week as he struggled to stay in the rotation, but Hauser had some solid moments with 13 points and 3-for-6 3-point shooting. Blake Griffin started, holding out Rob Williams, and Luke Cornet remained a solid backup big man option. Mfiondu Kabengele also scored a few runs early in the fourth quarter.
feasting in transition
When the Magic overtook the Celtics to build their lead, they attacked Boston in transition throughout the game. This led to easy buckets as the Magic put up plenty of points in the paint, where they held a 54–32 advantage over the Celtics. But it was the fast-break points that buried the C as the Magic had it 24–6 to punish Boston for its 18 turnovers.
marquee games coming up
The Celtics will often be featured on nationally televised games for their upcoming games. As part of the NBA’s Rivalry Week, they play the Heat, then host the Knicks and Lakers to finish out the week. After a three-day break, they will then play in the nets at home in what will be a crucial game in the standings. That’s a lot of attention, but it also means an opportunity for the East champs to make their statement on the rest of the league.