The Celtics are quickly finding out what it truly means when you’re an early favorite to win the Eastern Conference.
It means when you take on conference bottom feeders, you’re getting the absolute best from those teams, and on some nights those are the squads that are going to surprise you the most. It’s what comes with the territory when you’re projected to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
Monday night at TD Garden was one of those nights. The Celtics, returning home from a back-to-back road swing that ended in New York Saturday night, faced a Magic team that led Boston for all 48 minutes.
The Celtics had two golden opportunities to send the game into overtime but fell short in the final seconds as the Magic sealed a 93-90 win. With 7.8 seconds left, Kyrie Irving missed a corner trey out of a Brad Stevens timeout, which was followed by an offensive rebound pulled down by Al Horford and a Gordon Hayward miss from the right elbow behind the arc that rolled right off the rim.
For three quarters, Orlando’s lead teetered between double-digit territory and a two-possession game, but the Magic never surrendered a single lead throughout the night. Instead, the Magic strung together defensive stops and countered the Celtics with a blend of outside shooting and points in the paint.
They finished with 10 made 3-pointers and scored 42 points in the key. Nikola Vucevic (24 points, 12 rebounds) and Jonathan Issac (18 points, 12 rebounds) each finished with a double-double and led five Magic players in double figures.
Irving woke up from a first-half slump and poured in a team-high 22 points and pulled down 8 rebounds, while Al Horford contributed 15 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome their shortcomings on both ends of the floor, especially 9-for-40 shooting on 3-pointers.
The Celtics will head back on the road and take on the Thunder Thursday night in Oklahoma City.
Full article @ Magic beat Celtics 93-90
Source: GreenStreet Blog