C's band together, shut down Orlando offense


C's band together, shut down Orlando offense

BOSTON Avery Bradley made life miserable as can be for Orlando's Jameer Nelson. Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O'Neal delivered the kind of 1-2 defensive punch that left Dwight Howard stunned most of the night.

Even seldom-used Sasha Pavlovic was making things happen defensively.

Pick a Celtics player, any player and chances are they were part of a historically dominant night as the C's pummeled the Magic, 87-56.

"They came out and just absolutely dominated us with their energy and their defensive intensity," said Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy. "That's the most dominating defensive performance I have ever had against me."

Van Gundy added, "It's the first game in my career I've been through where not one guy played well. We didn't have one guy. That was an absolute beat-down, and in most senses it was much worse than the score indicated."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been saying for weeks that the C's were improving, making the kind of strides that he believed would pay off sooner or later.

Rivers anticipated his team would give the Magic a fight, but he had no idea that they would dominate the Magic in such emphatic fashion.

The 56 points Boston gave up tied a franchise-low for points allowed in the shot clock era.

Boston also set a franchise record for allowing a franchise-low 20 points in the second half, in addition to limiting the Magic to just 16 made field goals which is also a franchise record.

And by limiting Orlando to just 24.6 percent shooting from the field, that was the second-lowest field goal percentage a team has shot against the C's in the shot clock era.

"That was great," Rivers said of his team's play. "I mean, defensively that was as good as you can get."

With their starting backcourt of Ray Allen (ankle) and Rajon Rondo (wrist) out, along with Keyon Dooling (knee), Chris Wilcox (calf) and Mickael Pietrus, there was clearly the potential for the Magic to have a major letdown.

"You know human nature," Rivers said. "Sometimes they see no Ray, and no Paul I mean no Rondo, and no Keyon. You never know how that affects a team. But, I mean, great win for us."

And it came about largely because of the defense, a defense that has shown flashes of being good but not this good.

Celtics Kevin Garnett talked about how the C's success defensively had a lot to do with their ability to execute the game at a higher rate than they have most games this season.

"It was just one of those grind games," Garnett said. "Everyone knew their assignments. And I can say for the first time in a long time, I think we carried out assignments to the perfection."

And while the Celtics are a better team when they have their roster intact, the fact that their roster was so depleted because of injuries had, in a strange way, helped bond the C's in a way that brought about Monday night's record-setting performance defensively.

"When you go into a fight undermanned, it's not more so the weapons; it's more so the fight," Garnett said. "Tonight, we just started fighting."

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

1:13 - The Celtics came away with a 105-100 win in Portland on Friday night. Find out why Chris Mannix is calling this the best Celtics win of the season.

6:05 - Mannix discusses details about Kyrie Irving’s ‘minimally invasive’ procedure on his knee and what his level of concern is with A. Sherrod Blakely and Gary Tanguay.

10:03 - Michael Holley and Tom Curran discuss what NFL players, including Devin McCourty, are doing beyond the gridiron by being active in criminal justice reform discussions held at Harvard this week.



Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

When you think about Marcus Morris these days, big-time scoring immediately comes to mind. 

But in Boston’s 105-100 comeback win over Portland, Morris’ contributions went beyond the game-high 30 points he dropped on the Blazers.

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“Coach (Brad Stevens) is doing a great job of getting me the ball in my spots and my teammates are finding me,” Morris told reporters after the win. “And I’m just coming through.”

He’s providing strong play and a tremendous presence at both ends of the floor which has been critical to the team navigating some choppy waters with a number of regular rotation players – namely Kyrie Irving – out with injuries.

“One thing is, he’s healthy,” said Boston’s Al Horford, referring to the sore knee that limited Morris earlier this season and at times forced him to miss games. “And the other is, he’s just more confident, he’s playing very assertive. He’s playing great right now, in a really good rhythm.”

Said Stevens: “That’s been him (Morris). As he’s continued to feel better; I think physically he’s felt as good as he’s felt. He’s comfortable in our system and we need him to score. If you’re a basketball player and your job is to score, that’s a pretty good job.”

And it’s one that even with all the injuries Boston has played through, few envisioned him being such an integral part of the offense. 

Morris’ calling card prior to arriving in Boston was his defense. 

But Morris has made it known that his focus on the floor is to be as complete a player as possible.

“I’m not trying to just limit myself to just being that scorer,” Morris said. “Also, on the defensive end I think I’m bringing it; my defense has gotten a lot better, especially my on-the-ball defense. I’m trying to be that all-around player and not just an offensive player … but I can score.”