BOSTON – Coming off their best win of the season against Houston on Wednesday, signs of slippage would not have come as a surprise to anyone.
But then the schedule showed Boston was playing the Orlando Magic, a team that Boston has absolutely owned in recent years.
And Friday night was no exception as the Celtics put together yet another dominant display by dashing any hopes of an upset on Orlando’s part by crushing them 128-98.
- Highlights: Boston Celtics 128, Orlando Magic 98
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Isaiah Thomas led six double-figure scorers for Boston with 21 points on 9-for-15 shooting. Meanwhile, Orlando was led by Nikola Vucevic – a player the Celtics have inquired about potentially acquiring via trade – had 14 points and seven rebounds with two assists as Orlando (18-30) lost its third straight which is part of a stretch in which they have been beaten 12 of their last 15 games.
As out of hand as things got scoring-wise, things were relatively close in the early going.
But everything changed after Vucevic tied the game at 15 with 6:26 to play in the first quarter.
The Celtics stepped up their game at both ends of the floor and in doing so, stepped all the hapless Magic with a 24-9 run to close out the quarter which put them ahead 39-24.
Boston’s control at that point was established, and it only grew with one contributor after another stepping on to the parquet floor to provide something positive.
Even Tyler Zeller, out the previous 11 games and 18 of the last 25, got into the game early and played as if he was back at North Carolina dominating Winthrop.
The veteran center scored 10 points in 17 minutes, a key figure in Boston surging ahead to as many as 40 points in what was their most lopsided win since they throttled the same Orlando team by 30 points -the same margin of victory tonight.
And as the fourth quarter rolled around, head coach Brad Stevens began to clear his bench.
Not only because of the lopsided score, but also to give his starters some rest heading into their Saturday night matchup at Milwaukee.
And as good as the Celtics were on Friday, they’re likely to be even deeper when they face the Bucks.
Al Horford, Boston’s prized offseason signing, did not play on Friday due to a sore groin injury.
However, the injury doesn’t appear to be serious which is why the 6-foot-10 big man will be traveling with the team to Milwaukee and will be listed as probable.