Winslow Townson/USA TODAY
On one hand, this certainly felt like one of those nights in the NBA.
These are professional players, after all, and they are likely all to catch fire and find confidence all at the same time, discouraging the opponent and sinking any shot thrown toward the rim. It seemed Boston was having one of those nights. E'Twaun Moore fronted and harrassed Jeff Green and he still caught the ball through the contact and finished at the rim. Jared Sullinger was all but wrapped up by Victor Oladipo and he went ahead and flipped the ball in amazingly anyway.
Does that give you a good picture?
Because it really doesn't. Sure, the Celtics shot 60 percent from the floor. Sure, the Celtics scored 120 points. But they did more than that. They made the Magic look silly on defense, dishing and passing the ball to the open man consistently and cutting cleanly and clearly to the basket.
Orlando fought hard for so long but eventually the margin for error became too small for a team not getting much in the way of stops or transition opportunities. The Celtics took advantage of every mistake in a 120-105 win over the Magic at TD Garden on Monday.
The offense was largely fine. The ball moved really well early, especially working inside with Nikola Vucevic and kicking back out to Arron Afflalo and the jump shooters. Boston stepped up its pressure midway through the first quarter, forced some turnovers and got out in the break.
Boston got the ball moving itself right back at Orlando. Avery Bradley did a good job breaking down the defense and finding holes, forcing the Magic to bring help. The second helper was typically a bit late, opening up cutting lanes. It sent the Magic ddefense scrambling it appeared. And they were late to get back out.
The Celtics did not take a lot of 3-pointers — 5 for 12 — but they always seemed willing and able to make the extra pass and they drained their mid-range jumpers. Boston made 22 of 41 shots on mid-range shots. Those are the shots you want to giveup. And the Celtics were able to get a lot of shots in the paint, making 24 of 32 at the rim.
It set everything up and the Celtics just drained jumpers.
Bradley had 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting. Jordan Crawford 16 points and 10 assists on 7-for-12 shooting. Kelly Olynyk and Jeff Green added 16 points.
Boston forced 19 turnovers and turned them into 22 points and recorded 20 fast break points. The Celtics were the ones controlling the pace. Even though they never quite pulled away until the fourth quarter (particularly after the Magic cut the lead to four points in the third quarter). The Celtics though made the Magic speed up at several key junctures and this is when they built their lead.
Otherwise, Orlando did its job offensively. The team might have been unable to get out on the break — too many shots were being made and too few turnovers were being given up — but the team was able to find its footing and keep the game relatively close.
Vucevic ended with 15 points and 10 rebounds. The offense worked extremely well when it ran through him as the Magic were not getting the dribble penetration the Celtics were getting to create opportunities. Jameer Nelson particularly struggled with Boston's pressure defense.
Maurice Harkless had an up-and-down game in getting 12 points. Harkless had his moments when he drove to the basket, drew contact and made shots. And then there were times when he dribbled into traffic and lost the ball or threw up a wild shot.
Arron Afflalo proved to be the rock on offense. He scored 18 points and dished out seven assists. He may not be able to create much or for a full 48 minutes, but he continues to make shots and make the offense flow. Victor Oladipo did his best to attack (sometimes wildly) and scored 17 points on 7-for-17 shooting.
The Magic shot 45.9 percent and got to the line 23 times. They even matched the Celtics with 27 assists (the Celtics had 28).
Afflalo though said it best. The Magic might have been close but were never really in the game. They just could not get a stop.
This team found its success when it played some stellar defense. Orlando is not playing that kind of defense. That has exposed its weaknesses and shortcomings.