One Bad Loss: 10 Boston Celtics-Orlando Magic Takeaways

1. The boston celtics they have lost three of their last four games. It could very easily have been four straight losses, were it not for an incredible comeback to beat the los angeles lakers. During that stretch, this is the first loss that qualifies as a truly bad loss.

The orlando magic they are better than his 10-20 record. They have won half their games during their current five-game winning streak. As they’ve recovered, the Magic are starting to show they can play.

But… they were 1-11 on the road before this game. Boston was 11-2 at home, with the previous two losses coming in overtime. And the Celtics have a lot more experience.

Bottom line: Boston should have won this game. No matter how well Orlando is playing right now, they shouldn’t come to the TD Garden and beat up the Celtics. However, that is exactly what happened.

2. One of the main causes of the loss was the Celtics’ poor shooting. After beating everything through the first month and a half of the season, the Celtics have cooled off considerably in recent weeks.

Boston started 5-for-7 from deep in the east over the first five minutes or so. They finished the game 11-for-46. That’s 6-for-39 in the last 43 minutes of the game.

Even worse? The Celtics shot a truly horrible 5-for-27 on open 3-pointers. If we narrow it down to wide open 3s, Boston was 3-for-14. That’s 8-for-41 on wide or wide open shooting.

In a game where the Celtics got to the free throw line on a regular basis (they took 34 free throws), it might have been helpful for Boston to let some 3-pointers slip by. But do we really want a team that’s been as hot as them to have opened up to wide-open stares? Probably not.

3. Orlando is not a good shooting team and they play in huge lineups. That’s a recipe for a lot of offensive rebounding. When Mo Bamba grabs five offensive boards and Moe Wagner grabs four, you can ignore him. But when you allow 15 total offensive rebounds for 20 second-chance points, that’s a problem.

What’s really bad is allowing Markelle Fultz to grab three offensive rebounds himself. Fultz was fairly regularly the shortest or next smallest player on the court. But he reached the offensive cup at his whim.

Long rebounds are always iffy on defense, but Fultz is just faster on the ball than anyone in Boston here:

This work begins with Fultz on the ground in the middle of the painting. It ends with him beating two Boston players for the board:

Rob Williams has just returned, so his time is clearly not there. But he doesn’t get any body types in Fultz until it’s too late here:

4. The Celtics turned over 14 turnovers, which isn’t a terrible number. But Boston also had eight additional turnovers. Throughout the game, ball handling and passing were sloppy, especially by Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Brown had seven giveaways and had four other plays in the first half alone that should have been turnovers. Tatum only had two gifts, but he mishandled the ball several times, putting him and the offense off pace.

That’s sloppy basketball. Only Boston’s good transition defense and Orlando’s own sporadic offense kept points off turnovers from being a major problem.

5. Al Horford was ejected from the game early in the third quarter. Horford elbowed Moe Wagner on an in-bounds punch and replays show he made contact. It’s unclear what upset Horford enough to throw the nudge, even if Jayson Tatum did say after the game that Horford was just trying to get free.

No matter what, the Celtics began to fall apart after that play. The Magic went on an 8-0 run to extend their lead to 19. Boston made a few runs, but never really threatened after that.

Tatum committed a technical foul himself during that Orlando race. He had been hit on a previous series, so his complaint was valid, but it was unnecessary to bring him to the point of a technical foul, as things were turning away for Boston. The Celtics should be over this at this point, but too often they let officiating get to their heads.

6. Boston’s off-the-ball defense, Jaylen Brown in particular, remains unnervingly bad. In the trade defense, the Celtics ask everyone to hold on against whoever they choose. Too many times this season, when he’s away from the play, Brown has lost his focus. This is a simple back cut of Moe Wagner for the easy dunk when Brown falls asleep without the ball:

There are many more clips like that from this season. Brown isn’t the only offender, but teams have found they can cut him down for easy looks when he’s defending off the ball.

7. Let’s focus on a couple of positive aspects. The greats were back and they were both looking pretty good!

Starting with Al Horford, he played well before being sent off. The Celtics really missed him as a deep-seated threat in recent games. These last three are a big part of the offense Boston didn’t have on the West Coast tour:

Horford has also been the team’s best rim protector. He has regularly helped his teammates on the inside. This is a smart move to leave your man behind and block Franz Wagner’s shot:

Horford can also hold his own in 1v1 defense. This is good against Paolo Banchero:

8. We saved it until near the end to end on a high note, but Rob Williams was back! And he looked pretty good too. Williams looked fast and bouncy. Best of all? He didn’t seem to be favoring his leg/knee at all. There was none of that creeping up and down the court that we saw during last season’s playoffs.

Williams made his presence felt by hammering in a lob from Marcus Smart after being in the game for less than two minutes:

After picking up some rust-impacted fouls during his first race, Williams fared better in his later seasons. To open the second quarter, he did what only he can do on this team by sending this shot into the seats:

There’s always the concern when a guy comes back from injury that he might toughen up at halftime. Williams was ready to go. This was a loud dunk:

A little later, Jayson Tatum threw it in the immediate vicinity of the rim, trusting that Williams would take care of the rest:

Welcome back Rob! It’s great to have you.

9. Consider this a modest proposition… Should Joe Mazzulla consider changing the rotation?

Some of that will happen naturally with Rob Williams back. He will take most of the minutes that have gone to Luke Kornet and Blake Griffin. But Mazzulla could also do a bit more.

Sam Hauser started this season red hot from behind the arc. After going 3-for-6 from center in a blowout win over the charlotte hornets, Hauser has had a rough patch. He is just 24.2% behind the arc in his last nine games.

It might be time to consider going a little smaller and giving Payton Pritchard a few minutes. That means more three-guard lineups, but that’s okay. Malcolm Brogdon and Derrick White can hold their own defending the wings, and with Rob Williams back, he’ll help clean things up on the inside.

Hauser doesn’t need to be out of the rotation permanently. He’s earned better than that. But giving Hauser a few games to clear his mind could help. And Pritchard has played well when given minutes. It’s time to change things up for at least a few games.

It also wouldn’t hurt to expand the rotation to 10 men each game. That would help reduce minutes for everyone while keeping guys ready when they’re needed.

10. The good news for the Celtics? They can take the bad taste out of your mouth immediately. Boston hosts Orlando again on Sunday afternoon.

The Celtics have been through a rough patch, but still have the best record in the league at 22-8. It’s not panic time… yet. If Boston can’t bounce back and get this win, it’s not time to panic yet. But it will be time to start asking some questions.

Look for a better, more focused effort on Sunday. That will get Boston back on track and this stay-at-home move in a positive direction.

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