The Orlando Magic are one of the few teams already eliminated from playoff contention.
And on Friday, it didn’t take long to see why.
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The Boston Celtics didn’t waste any time taking control of the game and never letting up as they cruised to a 92-83 win.
Terry Rozier and Greg Monroe led the Celtics with 17 points each and Shelvin Mack had 16 points and seven rebounds for Orlando.
With the win, the Celtics (47-22) snapped a two-game losing skid and improved their record since returning from the All-Star break to 7-3.
Getting back on a winning track was just part of Boston’s motivation heading into Friday night’s game.
With several key players out with injuries, the Celtics’ depth was once again on display from the opening tip to the final horn.
In the first half, reserve guard Shane Larkin led the team in scoring with 10 points.
And in the third quarter, backup center Greg Monroe was too much for the Magic to handle around the basket.
In the third, Monroe scored 10 of his 17 points off Boston’s bench.
This was a game that the Celtics showed few signs of the kind of let-up we have seen them display against bad teams from time to time.
But Orlando opened the fourth quarter with a 9-2 run that cut Boston’s lead down to 77-61 with 9:18 to play.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had seen enough and called a time-out.
Orlando was able to chip away a little more at Boston’s lead which peaked at 24 points but was down to single digits in the fourth which provided a glimmer of hope that maybe just maybe, the Magic could get back in the game.
But when it mattered, Boston made the plays in the game’s closing moments to secure the victory.
For the Celtics, the goal on Friday night was two-fold: find a way to win and come away healthy.
Boston found success on both fronts, a refreshing change the Celtics hope to do more of going forward.
Marcus Smart underwent surgery on his right thumb earlier in the day, which is expected to keep him sidelined for 6-8 weeks which would put his return to the floor at the earliest, sometime near the end of the first round of the playoffs or early into the second.
Daniel Theis underwent season-ending surgery recently for a meniscus tear in his left knee.
And Boston played without Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness), but he might back in the lineup for Sunday’s game against New Orleans.
Al Horford returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games due to an illness, and he didn’t disappoint in finishing with a near double-double of 15 point and nine rebounds.