Celtics Wrap: Despite Defense, Celtics Force Overtime For 122-119 Victory Vs. Magic

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The Boston Celtics came into Sunday’s matchup off a big win over the Toronto Raptors in hopes of continue building momentum ahead of the NBA playoffs.

Even at their best on offense, the Celtics struggled to put the Orlando Magic to bed. But Boston made the plays when it counted in the final three minutes to force overtime, holding on for a 122-119 win.

Gordon Hayward had another impressive game in the bubble with 31 points, nine rebounds, five assists and a block. Jayson Tatum has a big day too, posting 29 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Jaylen Brown dropped 19 with 12 rebounds for a double-double and Brad Wanamaker contributed 10 points off the bench.

With the win, Boston improves to 46-23, while Orlando falls to 32-38.

STARTING FIVE
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Gordon Hayward
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Daniel Theis

BOSTON’S BENCH GETS GOING
The Celtics were playing uninspired basketball on both ends of the ball, allowing the Magic to build up an early lead.

Hayward led Boston in the first quarter with nine points, continuing to play with fire with great drives to the baseline. But the Celtics needed to spark more fire than that, as Brown, Theis and Walker were contained to zero points in the first.

So, head coach Brad Stevens turned to the bench.

Marcus Smart and Robert Williams were subbed in to stir things up with just under six minutes left in the opening frame, and that move paid off, quickly making it a two-point game. To no one’s surprise, Smart made some great plays on defense, too.

 

Hayward went on a 5-0 run by himself to end the quarter, and after a 3-pointer on their last possession, the Celtics cut the Magic’s lead to just one point, trailing 29-28 by the end of the first.

WELCOME TO THE HAYWARD AND BROWN SHOW
The Celtics opened the second with Hayward the only starter on the court, and for good reason, as he had a game-high 18 points by the end of the half and going 7-for-10 from the field. He also contributed four boards and three assists.

Semi Ojeleye hit a 25-foot 3-pointer to tie things up at 37 apiece, and a Hayward 3-pointer gave the Celtics a 42-41 lead, their first of the game, with just under six minutes left in the half.

Brown started to heat up from there, dropping 11 points in the second quarter and showing off how comfortable he’s gotten with his jumper.

The effort from Brown and Hayward helped the Celtics hold on to a 55-51 lead at halftime.

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
The opening minutes of the half were back-and-forth, but when the Celtics offense is clicking, their scoring looked effortless.

Beautiful ball movement resulted in a few small runs, but they weren’t adding insurance on the other side of the ball. The defense made things too easy for Orlando, not boxing out and by poorly containing at the perimeter. Magic center Nikola Vucevic had a team-high 22 points.

Still, Boston managed to lead 87-86 at the end of the quarter.

DOWN TO THE WIRE
A quick 8-0 run put the Magic up 106-101 with just 5:14 on the clock, leading Stevens to call a timeout.

The Celtics spent the rest of the quarter trying to make up lost ground. Williams added a spark at the beginning of the quarter, but it was not enough.

But with Hayward’s best effort, the Celtics locked in for the final minutes and managed to keep it close enough to trail by two with one possession left.

Enter Jayson Tatum, who ran out the shot clock as long as he could before getting the perfect look to tie things up.

The game was tied at 112 apiece entering overtime.

OVERTIME TATUM
Walker had reached his minutes restriction by the end of regulation, leaving him sidelined for overtime.

Orlando kept winning loose balls, but Tatum answered the call the Celtics needed, taking advantage of his matchup with Markelle Fultz.

And after three made free throws from Hayward, the Celtics managed to hold on 122-119.

PLAY OF THE GAME
We’ll take all the Timelord minutes we can get.

UP NEXT
The Celtics face the Memphis Grizzlies in their penultimate seeding game Tuesday night. Tip-off is slated for 5 p.m. ET.

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