In what most sane people would declare as an ugly, ugly game; Boston held on to defeat the Magic. Coach Brad Stevens got the 2nd win of his career and his first ever winning streak. I’ll be honest when I say that there weren’t many positives to be drawn from this game other that the Celtics’ ability to hold onto leads and close games out might be slowly getting better.
Here are my takeaways:
Boston’s Defense Is Still Pretty Good:
The Celtics were able to win a game while shooting 35%. Let me repeat that for you, THE CELTICS WON A GAME WHILE SHOOTING THIRTY-FIVE PERCENT. THEY ALSO SHOT FOURTEEN PERCENT FROM THE THREE POINT LINE. Usually when you’re winning games with putrid shooting like that you’re defense is probably doing something right. They forced 20 Magic turnovers and scored 25 points off those turnovers. As much as this game looked awful there were a lot of encouraging signs. The team looks like they’re learning from their previous mistakes and the effort is consistently there from the tip to the buzzer.
The 4th Quarter Didn’t Cripple Them:
Coming into tonight the 4th Quarter had been a major Achille’s Heel for the Celtics. They have been outscored 134-79, a pretty awful mark even for a young team like this. Holding leads was not their forte but tonight they finally eclipsed the 20 point mark and were only outscored by 1 point(!!). The biggest factor in that might have been their ability to hang onto the ball.
The Offense Still Needs Some Work:
The Magic are very good defensive team — Top 13 in defensive rating coming into tonight — but it was very troubling to see the Celtics struggle so much on offense. It was remedied by the 19 offensive rebounds that they gobbled up and that they hit 21-26 Free Throws but the offensive needs to improve. Jeff was non-existent for much of the games sans the two get-up-out-of-your-chair-dunks that he had — including this one that effectively sent Jason Maxiell into the afterlife.
Disregarding the ugliness of the game it was an encouraging win for a team that is still trying to find an identity on the court. Boston has pretty much been in every game they’ve played and this was one of their tougher tests. Winning a game when seemingly nothing is going your way is a sign of improvement. I don’t see it as much of a sign that this team is going to compete but this team is going to continually play hard and play unselfish basketball.
The Boston Celtics take on the Miami Heat tomorrow night at 7:30 PM.