The Boston Celtics had their 9-game win streak snapped by the scrappy Orlando Magic on January 23, by a score of 113-98. It is the C’s third loss in a row to the Magic.
Boston was without key players Marcus Smart (ankle), Robert Williams III (knee), and Malcolm Brogdon (personal reasons). This hindered Boston’s ability to maintain any sort of rhythm for the game and they found themselves in an early hole.
The Cs managed to dig themselves out of it but just as things started to look good for Boston, Jayson Tatum had to leave the game for a suspected rib injury. He was able to return to action shortly after but the damage was already done. In the four minutes of play he was in the locker room, Orlando went on a 20-5 run and never trailed again.
The Boston Celtics were never able to figure out this Magic team in their four meetings and they’ll be relieved to know they wont have to play them again until next season.
Here are 3 takeaways from Monday night’s loss.
Boston Celtics takeaway No. 1: Sam Hauser can play a key role if he can rediscover his shooting stroke
Sam Hauser has had a complete seesaw of a season thus far. He was shooting an absurd 49.4% of his threes through the end of November but he has suffered a steep decline since then. Prior to Monday night’s game he has dipped under the 40% mark for the season and has completely fallen out of the fully healthy rotation.
Luckily for Hauser, he had an opportunity with all of the absences against Orlando and made the most of his chance.
The second-year forward finished with the highest scoring output aside from the Jays with 13 points. He knocked down three of his six triples for the game and even showcased some variety in his attack with a nifty pull-up midrange.
It isn’t much, but a performance like this is all it takes for someone with his shooting ability to break out of his slump and it could prove to be huge for the Boston Celtics moving forward.
Boston Celtics takeaway No. 2: Turnovers prove to be costly once again
The Celtics coughed the ball up a total of 18 times in Monday night’s loss. That puts their turnover total over the last three games to an inexcusable number of 50.
Turnovers are always killer because of how it can hurt the offense but the more glaring problem is how it can hurt the defense.
It isn’t rocket science to understand that it is easier to score in transition than against a set defense, and a high number of turnovers lead to more transition opportunities. The Magic cashed in on these Celtics giveaways and outscored them 24-6 in transition.
An 18-point scoring differential on fast breaks that were directly from turnovers is a recipe for disaster no matter who is playing.
This needs to become a focal point of improvement for Joe Mazzulla and his staff because the Boston Celtics have been virtually unbeatable in games they limit turnovers.
Boston Celtics takeaway No. 3: The supporting cast is just as crucial as the Jays
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown scored 26 points each but it unfortunately wasn’t enough to get the win. They carried most of the offensive load for the game but their lack of depth was too much to overcome.
This loss against the Magic makes it more apparent than ever that no matter how great the Jays are, the supporting cast is just as crucial. Having guys like Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon, and Robert Williams change the whole dynamic of the team.
They add a new dimension to the offense while Brogdon and Smart provide much needed relief for the Jays. This can also be said for the other role players as they allow them to be more comfortable in their respective roles without having to do too much.
The biggest difference without them in the lineup is that the ball tends to stick and their offensive flow is just a bit slower than normal. It goes without saying how different the defense looks without them on the court.
Star players ultimately run the NBA and the Celtics are lucky to have two of them but they need their full supporting cast to remain healthy and step up if they are to win their 18th championship.