Final, Celtics win 120-105: Ladies and gentlemen, your first-place Boston Celtics.
After beginning the season 0-4, the Celtics have now won four straight and are tied with the Sixers for first place in the Atlantic Division. Avery Bradley led a balanced Boston scoring attack with 24 points, leading seven Celtics players in double figures.
Jordan Crawford came through with 16 points, 10 assists and zero turnovers in a perfect point guard performance. Gerald Wallace took on some playmaking duties as well, scoring just one point but recording five assists and earning a team-best plus-20 rating. He also had three steals.
Arron Afflalo had 18 points and Nik Vucevic had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Magic, who have lost three in a row.
Fourth quarter, 2:51, Celtics 113-97: This one is getting into ugly territory. And the Celtics are suddenly is position to claim a share of first place.
A victory here would improve the Celtics’ record to 4-4, tied with Philadelphia for the best mark in the Atlantic Division. That’s correct. A win and the Celtics are in first place.
Fourth quarter, 5:55, Celtics 102-87: Phil Pressey’s growth has been something to watch. He is rounding into a legit backup NBA point guard, though how much more he becomes than that remains to be seen.
Pressey airballed his first shot of the quarter, but he came back to drill a three and show he wasn’t shy. He then knifed into the lane and tried to take on two Magic defenders. It didn’t go so well, and his shot was blocked out of bounds.
Regardless, Pressey’s ability to keep the Celtics’ offense running off the bench has played a huge role in their ability to win their last three games — and to be on their way to a fourth win tonight. He has seven points and two assists leading the effective second unit that has kept the Celtics from having a drop-off when the starters go to the bench.
Fourth quarter, 8:15, Celtics 98-80: Could the Celtics’ first post-KG era Gino game be coming?
Gerald Wallace used his active hands to create turnovers on the Magic’s first two possessions of the fourth quarter, and the Celtics have been off and running ever since. They’ve stretched their lead to a game-high 18 points, with everybody from Phil Pressey to Vitor Faverani getting in on the action.
Seven Celtics are now in double figures. Aside from Avery Bradley, with 20 points, nobody else has scored more than 14. Wallace is playing facilitator with five assists and just one point.
End of third quarter, Celtics 87-74: Kelly Olynyk can shoot. His coach believes it. His president of basketball operations believes it. He just needs to believe it.
Olynyk passed up a couple of open 3-point looks in the third quarter, to his teammates’ consternation. Gerald Wallace actually threw up his hands in exasperation when he hit Olynyk with a perfect pass in the corner, only to see Olynyk pump-fake and dribble toward the base line.
Olynyk’s reticence to shoot is just about the only thing to find fault with in the third quarter for the Celtics, though. They maintained their offensive efficiency while getting even more aggressive on defense, forcing six turnovers in that 12 minutes alone.
Third quarter, 5:46, Celtics 75-64: For a minute there, the Celtics looked to be in dangerous territory.
Nah, they’re good now.
When Gerald Wallace entered the game, the Celtics’ lead had been whittled down to five points and the Magic looked to be getting their rhythm back. Nik Vucevic and Jason Maxiell were taking advantage of their superior size to Boston’s front line of Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger.
Now, thanks to a focus on the defensive end, the Celtics have pushed their lead back up to 11 points. Wallace found Bass ahead of the pack for a pivoting, two-handed slam to force a timeout from Orlando’s bench.
Halftime, Celtics 59-50: The Celtics’ balance scoring attack is halfway to delivering another win.
Two days after every Celtic who played got into the scorebook in a win over the Heat, they are at it again. Six players have scored five or more points and Phil Pressey is the only player who has not scored for the Celtics. Their even offensive production is a byproduct of sharing the ball, which has helped them shoot 62.5 percent from the field and record 15 assists on 25 field goals.
The Magic have been much more aggressive on the glass and in bombing away from three, but those are two high risk/reward areas. So far, it’s been a risk. They are just 5-for-13 from deep and their eight offensive rebounds have translated into only seven second-chance points. The Celtics have also avoided giving away any easy baskets with just six turnovers.
Jordan Crawford leads the way with 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting and has six assists with no turnovers. The Magic have gotten some contributions from Jameer Nelson (eight points, three assists) and Maurice Harkless (10 points, four rebounds) but nothing consistent from anyone in Magic blue and black.
Second quarter, 2:53, Celtics 53-43: Jordan Crawford might not be the most efficient shooter in the world, but he can knock down an open shot.
The Magic twice decided just to not get out on Crawford and he made them pay. First, he brought the ball up the court, dribbled calmly to the foul line and swished a jumper. Then he corralled an Avery Bradley miss and — when Orlando didn’t show any signs of reacting — he unleashed a short baseline jumper to extend Boston’s lead to 10 points.
Second quarter, 6:33, Celtics 41-37: Finally, the Magic seem to have something working. Coach Jacque Vaughn isn’t going to let that chance get away.
With the Magic closing the gap to three points, Vaughn took a timeout just two minutes after his last opportunity to talk things over with his team. The Magic have lost two straight and clearly do not want to make that three straight, even if it means exhausting a couple of extra timeouts early on.
Second quarter, 8:37, Celtics 37-30: The Celtics have picked up the pace. Not surprisingly, Gerald Wallace and Phil Pressey have been on the court for that.
The Celtics have put up six shots in the first three-plus minutes of the second quarter after taking 19 shots the entire first quarter. Their faster pace has helped them get deflections and extend their lead despite the Magic starting to shoot the ball slightly better.
Brandon Bass and Kelly Olynyk might not seem like an intimidating defensive front line, but both can hit an open shot, which has created some confusion for Orlando’s bigs.
End of first quarter, Celtics 31-25: Break up the Celtics.
After 12 minutes of play, the Celtics have asserted their will on the Magic with their crisp offensive execution. They are dominating the battle of points in the paint, 16-6, and shooting 68 percent overall. They have committed only two turnovers, which has been one of their bugaboos in their losses.
Still, the Magic aren’t going away. They have a horrible shooting night against the Celtics on Friday and are off to a much better start tonight. They are 3-for-4 beyond the arc so far. They hit four 3-pointers all of Friday’s game.
Jordan Crawford is off to another stellar start. He has a game-high eight points and three assists in 10 minutes of play.
First quarter, 3:13, game tied 19-19: The veteran Magic are outworking the Celtics, but so far the Celtics simply have been more efficient.
Orlando is winning the rebounding battle 10-5 and has five offensive boards, the same number of rebounds the Celtics have overall. But the Magic are just 7-for-18 from the field while the Celtics are 9-for-14. If three of the Magic’s makes weren’t 3-pointers, they would be behind here early.
First quarter, 6:22, Magic 12-8: Jordan Crawford had the ball on a three-on-none breakaway, but rather than take it himself, he flipped it over the Jeff Green for a dunk.
Clearly, Crawford is learning.
Green, who got a louder-than-usual ovation when starting lineups were announced, has gotten off to a slow start. He missed the only other shot he took, a wing 3-pointer, and his man, Maurice Harkless, has five of the Magic’s first 12 points.
Avery Bradley has carried the Celtics early, recording six of the team’s eight points, along with a strip of Jameer Nelson.
6:18 p.m.: Kelly Olynyk will be back in the starting lineup, since it went so well the last time.
The Celtics won Olynyk’s first professional start in thrilling fashion over the Heat, but that is not why coach Brad Stevens opted to keep the rookie in the starting lineup for Monday’s game against the Magic. Stevens says he likes Olynyk’s growth and that because he believes in the law of averages that Olynyk has a lot of made shots coming in his future.
Olynyk is shooting 37 percent from the field.
The Magic are looking to get back to .500 after Friday’s loss to the Celtics touched off a two-game losing streak for them. Following their 91-89 loss to the Celtics, the Magic turned around and lost to the Atlanta Hawks the next night.
The projected starters appear below.
8 a.m. ET: After their worst start to a season in 44 years, the Celtics have a chance to get back to .500 on Monday.
Yes, it sounds crazy, but it’s true.
The last time the Celtics started 0-4, it was 1969, the season after Bill Russell and Sam Jones retired. Those Celtics never got back to .500, winning three straight before suffering a seven-game losing streak that set a doomed season off on a bad foot. This year’s Celtics (3-4) can improve on that with a victory over the Magic (3-4), who they topped in a closer-than-necessary matchup in Orlando on Friday.
Jeff Green will have a hard time improving on Saturday’s performance, when he hit a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat LeBron James and the Heat. If the Celtics play anything like they did against the defending champs, though, a win over the much less formidable Magic should be easy.
Join us for updates and analysis from TD Garden during the game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET.
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