Five takeaways: C's escape with an ugly win
Five takeaways: Celtics escape with an ugly win
BOSTON – This time of year, it’s hard to put too much stock into close victories between teams that are worlds apart in terms of wins and losses.
But there’s no doubt that the 117-116 win over Orlando on Friday was a lot closer than most – mainly the Celtics – anticipated.
However, the Celtics understand that there’s no shame in winning in an ugly fashion, just as long as you get the victory.
But as the Celtics try and close out the regular season playing well, there are a number of factors that were on display Friday night that are noteworthy going forward, good and bad ones.
Here are five takeaways from Friday night’s win:
LIVING AT THE LINE
The Celtics are very much a jump-shooting team, but they must continue to find a way to get to the free throw line. Against the Magic, Boston had more made free throws (29) than Orlando’s free-throw attempts (25).
BALL PROTECTION HIGH, TURNOVERS LOW
Boston has been turning the ball over significantly more of late than we saw for most of this season. But on Friday, their ball protection was as good as we’ve seen. They committed 11 turnovers which led to 14 points for the Magic. In Boston’s previous five games, they averaged 10.0 turnovers in the first half leading to 11.2 points after two quarters.
I.T. HELP ON THE WAY?
The Celtics have been hearing for a while how Isaiah Thomas needs some help, particularly when it comes to scoring when he’s not in the game. Boston got a number of players who seemed up to the task against Orlando. When Thomas went to the bench near the end of the first quarter, Gerald Green came up with a couple big baskets, the last of which put Boston up 31-29 after the first. And in the third quarter, Thomas went to the bench and his teammates responded by going on a 9-4 run in his absence.
ROZIER MAKING HIS POINT(S)
Terry Rozier seems to have re-discovered his scoring touch after a rough stretch of shooting. In his last two games, he totaled 23 points which equaled his scoring in Boston’s previous six games which included a DNP-CD. Getting him back to scoring and defending the way he does, will be important as the Celtics try and navigate their way through the playoffs which begins in three weeks.
BRADLEY HEALTH CONCERNS
Avery Bradley missed Friday’s game against Orlando with gastroenteritis (stomach flu), which adds to his team-high total of missed games to injury or illness (25) this season. While most of his injuries and illnesses have not been the kind that lingered too long, it’s certainly not something the Celtics feel good about going into the postseason. While the Celtics have been able to get by without him from time to time, any game he misses in the playoffs could be the game that could cost Boston a playoff series. Isaiah Thomas is the team’s best scorer and Jae Crowder is arguably the team’s most versatile player. But Bradley’s value both as a scorer and elite defender puts him and the Celtics on another level that, if healthy, makes them a legit contender to make a deep playoff run.