This Magic Moment: Orlando Magic faces eerily similar test in Boston Celtics back-to-back

The Orlando Magic feasted on the contending Boston Celtics last December in back-to-back matchups on the parquet. This season, they will aim to build on their 2022 success in an eerily similar weekend at TD Garden.
Boston Celtics v Orlando Magic
Boston Celtics v Orlando Magic / Rich Storry/GettyImages
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December 16, 2022

The Orlando Magic walked off of the TD Garden's famous parquet with grins reaching their ears with their fifth straight win. This young, rebuilding squad blitzed the league-leading Boston Celtics, notching their 10th win of the season in style 117-109.

It had taken 30 games, but the vibes permeating through the Magic organization were finally starting to pay off.

After a 9-20 start that left both local and national media alike to start to look toward the 2023 Draft already, the young squad led by rookie Paolo Banchero and the sibling duo of Moe and Franz Wagner were starting to show flashes.

Moe Wagner scored 25 and Banchero scored 20 to deliver a knockout blow to the defending Eastern Conference Champs. Orlando outrebounded the lengthy Boston wings 53-38 and ran right through the chest of the most talented roster of the NBA -- four players on the Celtics roster had been named to All-Star teams in their careers.

The Magic did not have the better roster on paper, but they showed that they're better than their record states.

“One of the (Magic) coaches came up to me before the game and said, ‘We’re on the road against the best team in the NBA. Either we can prove that we’re a good team and really rolling or blame that we’re on the road and just roll over.’ We didn’t want to do that,” Banchero said after the win.

They did not. There is a newfound confidence in 2023 that this team picked up last year in Boston. This back-to-back showed they can compete with the best. They may not have all of the right pieces in place, but being confident and simply playing their brand of basketball was achievable.

December 18, 2022

Grant Williams' game-tying three-pointer missed badly, and the Boston Celtics could do nothing but throw their hands up and shake their heads while the faithful crowd groaned and filed out in dejection.

The lowly Orlando Magic -- again -- had taken down the NBA's best to sweep the two-game set at TD Garden and clinch their sixth straight win.

Paolo Banchero could not be stopped, scoring 31 (two points from his young career-high) while adding six three-pointers over the hands of Jaylen Brown. The team-first defense forced 16 turnovers, including five from Brown, who also struggled from the field.

The fourth-youngest roster in the league took down a roster full of achievements that those in Orlando are trying to reach themselves. It's a weekend headlined by the message that they played their way and it paid off. There's no superstar this team needs to trade for. They simply need to keep buiilding on the brand of basketball that they used in Boston.

"It means a lot to come out in this environment and get two straight wins against that team, a great team,” Banchero said. “I think it means a lot for our confidence going forward. We know we can compete against anybody. We just have to keep the same level of focus.”

Orlando may not have reached these heights again the rest of the season in terms of a winning streak. But the Magic had found their confidence. They had found their purpose and their play. That carried out throughout the season -- and even into another victory over the Celtics later in the season at the Amway Center.

This team was not a fluke anymore.