Streak snapped: 10 Takeaways from Boston Celtics-Orlando Magic
1. We’ll start with the good stuff. Sam Hauser’s role has started to change for the Celtics. He was a key rotation guy to open the season. Even when Boston got healthy, Hauser hung around the rotation for a while. But when he stopped making shots, his court time lessened. For now, Hauser looks to be a guy who will only play on nights when other Celtics are out.
Hauser can get his rotation spot back if he plays more games like he did in Orlando. Hauser made three three-pointers, but that’s what he’s supposed to do. He’s been a lifelong shooter, so that will presumably come back. It’s plays like this drive to the basket that can keep Hauser afloat when the jumper isn’t falling:
This type of quick decision to take an off-the-dribble pullup is something we haven’t seen a lot of either:
Don’t give up on Hauser just yet. He may find a way back into the rotation before all is said and done.
2. Derrick White has 44 blocks this season. That’s second in the NBA behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder for players under 6-foot-7. For his career, White averages just shy of a block per game.
Sometimes they come in help defense like this one on a Markelle Fultz drive:
Other times, White takes his man on straight up and sends the shot back the other way:
White’s versatility on both offense and defense has been a boon to the Celtics. Last season’s trade deadline deal looked good then and it looks even better a year later.
3. To this point in his career, Payton Pritchard has been asked to hit shots and to be a pest on defense. Pritchard hasn’t been asked to do a lot of playmaking for others yet. With Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon out, we got some glimpses of Pritchard’s traditional point guard skills in this one.
Pritchard does a nice job here of getting into the teeth of the defense before setting up Jaylen Brown for the short jumper:
Grant Williams ended up faking and stepping into a pullup here, but the initial pass by Pritchard is pretty good stuff out of a screen action:
Chances for Pritchard to run the offense will be few and far between. But these flashes show us that there is probably more to his game than being a shooter and pesky defender.
4. Let’s get to the Bad. Boston’s transition defense was horrible in this game. 10 live-ball turnovers didn’t set the defense up for success, but the Magic outscored the Celtics 24-6 in fastbreak points.
Depending on how you count it (teams score things differently as transition vs halfcourt), Orlando outscored Boston somewhere in the range of 50-20 in transition points.
All game long, the Celtics weren’t getting matched up correctly. The Magic were good about pushing and attacking against a non-set defense. On the other end of the floor, Boston mostly played in the halfcourt. Opportunities to get out and run were very limited for the Celtics in this one.
5. Related to the above: Boston had 18 turnovers. It feels like the number of Celtics turnovers in wins vs losses is drastic. In reality, Boston averages 12.3 turnovers in wins and 13 turnovers in losses. That’s not much of a difference.
That said, having a turnover amount that approaches 20 is going to make it hard to win. And, as noted above, live-ball turnovers are killers. In this one, most of Boston’s giveaways came in or around the paint, but they also had a few of the sloppy, unforced open-court turnovers too.
Given they are seventh in turnover rate, this really isn’t a huge problem. But, despite the stats saying otherwise, it feels like it is when the Celtics lose. Something to keep an eye on the rest of the way and in the playoffs.
6. Orlando dominated Boston in the paint. Even if the Magic aren’t playing their insanely huge lineups as much anymore, they are still pretty big. Their size seems to give the Celtics some real issues.
Orlando had 54 points in the paint, compared to just 32 for Boston. The Magic shot 27-of-45 in the paint, including 20-of-31 at the rim. Yes, Rob Williams was out, but that’s still some rough rim protection from the guys in green.
The lane is where the problem finished. Where the problem started was some poor perimeter defense. Whether it was the Magic guards breaking down the Celtics to get into the paint, or Orlando’s bigs driving their Boston counterparts, the home team lived in the lane. Even without their best two defenders in Rob Williams and Marcus Smart, the Celtics shouldn’t have had this much trouble containing ballhandlers.
7. Moving on to the Ugly section, we have to start with Grant Williams and his incessant complaining. It started only moments after Williams entered the game, when he complained about what he thought was an illegal screen set by the Magic.
Early in the second quarter, Williams stared down the official after he was called for an illegal screen. And this was a good call, as Williams clearly moved late:
On his fifth foul, Williams resorted to jumping up and down like an angry toddler in the Target toy aisle being told he can’t have a $200 LEGO set:
Again, it’s pretty obvious Williams leans into make sure his right shoulder delivered a blow.
We’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth saying again: No official likes to be shown up or to hear a ton of yapping. But they really don’t like it when there is a steady stream of grievances being issued by a role player. Refs give star players a lot of leeway to complain. They’ll also let veterans get their words in. Younger role players? Not so much.
Grant Williams is a good player. He’s very important to Boston with his versatility on both ends of the floor. He just needs to play and let the others handle the officials.
8. Somewhat related to the above: The Orlando Magic looked like the poised, veteran team down the stretch. After Boston cut the Orlando lead to 97-95 with 6:20 to play in the game, everything fell apart. The Magic closed the game on a 16-3 run.
The Celtics looked rushed and all kinds of out of sorts over the final 6:20. On drives, they were looking to get bailed out, and multiple possessions featured guys trying to do too much.
Bad games and bad losses happen. Happening this way was uncharacteristic and hopefully just a blip for Boston.
9. We mentioned above that Orlando dominated Boston in the paint. On the Celtics offensive end, they had another rough game with finishing at the rim. Boston was just 16-of-32 in the paint, including 10-of-17 at the rim.
On a night where Boston shot very well from behind the arc, they just needed a little something to help to balance things off inside. It’s unclear if this is a sign of struggling against big, long teams. Or was it just a bad night? If it’s the former, that’s not a great sign for a team that might have to go through Milwaukee or Cleveland in the playoffs.
We’re betting it was just a bad night, but it’s something we’ll be monitoring moving forward.
10. The nine-game win streak is over. And it ended in a bad loss. Yes, the Magic are improving, especially as they’ve gotten healthy. But they aren’t a good team. The Celtics struggles against them are odd, to say the very least.
The best thing after a bad loss is to get right back on the court. Boston heads further south to Miami to close out this three-game trip in a back-to-back on Tuesday.
Time to start a new streak. Will that happen on Tuesday, or will we have to wait until Boston gets back home at the end of the week?