Orlando Magic turn heads with back to back wins over Boston Celtics

Final
Orlando Magic
95
Boston Celtics
92

The Orlando Magic have won six straight games for the first time since the 2019 season.

On Sunday, the Orlando Magic defeated the reigning Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics for the second time in almost as many days.

It comes on the heels of a winning streak that has revitalized Orlando in the early part of the season.

After starting the year 5-20, many had already written the Magic off and chalked the season up to injuries and tanking. But in the last couple of weeks, the Magic have stayed healthy (miraculously) and continue to gel even in close games.

The Orlando Magic picked up their sixth straight victory, outmuscling and outdefending the Celtics in a low-scoring game on the road.

It has become obvious that something has clicked in their games against the Celtics, despite Jayson Tatum missing the latter contest.

How the Magic are doing it

The Orlando Magic’s defense has been superb, specifically the three point defense.

Entering the two game series against the Orlando Magic, the Boston Celtics were ranked fourth in three-point shooting with a 38.6-percent clip.

But in the first matchup, the Celtics shot just 23.9 percent (11 for 46) and in he second matchup shot 25.5 percent (12 for 47). This is a far cry from their matchup earlier in the year where they shot 40.4 percent.

Last week, the Orlando Magic handled the Toronto Raptors in a similar fashion as the Raptors did not shoot better than 29 percent from three in either of their games against the Magic.

In fact, during the winning streak, only two teams have shot better than 30 percent from three.

Now in a league built off of the deep ball, these numbers are hard to count on. But it is a promising sign to see the perimeter defense show up, especially against a couple Eastern Conference teams higher than the Magic in the standings.

The other main point of emphasis for the Magic has been health.

Health is a pillar for every team in the history of sports. It is one of the most important components to a team’s success during a season but sometimes it can be taken for granted.

For Magic fans though, after all of the health issues for what feels like an eternity, that is not the case.

And through this stretch, it must be mentioned Orlando has not been bitten by the injury bug (knock on wood).

The core of Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero and Markelle Fultz have played every game through this stretch. And coming off the bench, Cole Anthony and Bol Bol have come up big when needed with Moe Wagner adding some needed toughness and physicality in the starting lineup.

Not to mention Wendell Carter is eyeing a return to the court in about a week or two.

Impact Players during this run

This all starts with Markelle Fultz’s return. And even though his numbers on the stat sheet would not indicate irreplaceable value, having a true point guard to run the show has been extremely important.

Fultz has played nine games so far this year since his return from a combination of injuries and has led the Magic to a 6-3 record in that stretch.

With the injury to Jalen Suggs early in the year, and Cole Anthony not fitting comfortably into the main point guard role, the Magic needed a floor general.

That is exactly what he has been. In 26 minutes per game, Fultz is shooting 47 percent from the field, shooting 41 percent from three and has led the Magic in assists since his return.

There is also Paolo Banchero, who had himself a great day at the office again Sunday.

Banchero kept the Orlando Magic in the game during the first half. Virtually nobody had it going in the first two quarters. Banchero led the team with 22 of its 50 first-half points and accounted for seven of its 18 made field goals. He was a perfect 4 for 4 from three as well.

He was pretty much the only player in the entire game to shoot well in the first half as the Boston Celtics shot 27.9 percent from the field as a team.

His first half play built a nine-point lead virtually on its own and allowed time for his teammates to wake up.

And when his team needed him most, Banchero delivered by making a huge three-point shot with three minutes to go in the game to give Orlando a lead the team would not surrender for the rest of the contest.

Also, an honorable mention must go out to Franz Wagner who has been the leading scorer in half the games during this win streak. He is averaging 21.2 points per game in the last six games.

What is next for the Magic

This entire win streak has been about proving that it has not been a fluke.

With back to back wins over the team with the best record in the NBA, it is clear a switch has flipped.

Now, it is unclear what the ceiling for this team is or if they can stay healthy. But win streaks like this, especially if they can get a couple more before it ends, can really turn a season around.

This may be a more optimistic outlook than most, but considering this team is healthy with proper bench support, it seems like we are getting our first look at the real 2023 Orlando Magic, and that is reason for hope.