The Celtics saw their nine-game win streak snapped Monday night with a 113-98 loss to the Orlando Magic. Luckily for the C’s, it’s the last time they will see Orlando this season. While the Magic are way down in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, they won the season series against Boston 3-1.
The Celtics were shorthanded, as they were without Robert Williams, Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon, forcing Joe Mazzulla to lean on the bench, which resulted in Mfiondu Kabengele seeing some minutes early in the fourth quarter.
The Celtics fell behind early in this one, trailing by seven at the end of the first quarter, but a 16-1 run fueled by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown would put the Celtics on top 45-44 with 4:11 remaining in the first half. Tatum and Brown combined for 34 of Boston’s 54 first-half points, as the C’s found themselves trailing by one at the end of the first half.
The Celtics would keep things close until around the seven-minute mark of the third quarter, when Tatum suffered an apparent injury after making a three.
After making the three, Tatum would commit an intentional foul on the defensive end and went straight to the locker room. He would return later in the quarter, but the damage was already done. In Tatum’s absence, the Magic exploded on a 20-5 run and built their largest lead of the game at 15.
Boston would cut the Orlando lead to just three with 7:24 to go in the fourth, but Orlando would close the game on an 18-6 run and steal the season series. Here are five takeaways as the Celtics suffered their first loss since Jan. 3:
Tatum’s value on display
Despite the loss, Tatum’s value to the Celtics was on full display Monday night. Tatum was the only Celtic to finish with a positive plus-minus on the night (+6) while also tying the team-lead for points with 26, leading the team in assists with seven, and leading the team in rebounds with six. Tatum notched his 38th 25-point game of the season, which is the most in the NBA.
The non-Tatum minutes killed the Celtics, as evidenced by the 20-5 run while he was in the locker room, which proved to be the difference maker.
With 18 turnovers on Monday night, The Celtics have now turned the ball over 15-plus times in each of their last three games, which is simply a recipe for disaster. When the Celtics turn the ball over 15 times or more this season, they are 7-8. When they total fewer than 15 turnovers, they are 28-5.
Dominated down low
The Celtics missed Robert Williams on Monday night. It’s been a common theme in all four meetings between these two teams -- the Celtics struggling with Orlando’s length -- and Monday night was no different.
The Magic out-rebounded the Celtics 40-37 and scored 54 points in the paint. Orlando also killed Boston in the transition game, as they scored 24 fast-break points compared to Boston’s six, which also ties back to Boston’s 18 turnovers.
Tough scoring night
For just the third time this season, the Celtics were held under 100 points in a game. That’s now twice that the Magic have been the team doing it.
With two of Boston’s top four scorers out in Smart and Brogdon, the Celtics struggled to generate much offense outside of Tatum and Brown.
With Tatum and Brown scoring 26 points apiece, they each now have 30 25-point games this season, becoming the first pair of teammates to do that before February since Pete Maravich and Lou Hudson with the Atlanta Hawks in 1973-74.
The Celtics won’t have to wait long for their chance to bounce back, as they will now travel to Miami to take on the Heat on the second night of the back-to-back. Boston is 7-0 on the second night of back-to-backs this season.