Celtics

Celtics-Magic takeaways: Great defense propels C's to much-needed win

Celtics

The Boston Celtics bounced back in a major way Wednesday night in Orlando, snapping their three-game losing streak with a convincing 92-79 victory over the Magic.

Four of the Celtics' starters scored in double figures, led by Jaylen Brown's 28 points. The Celtics shot only 27 percent from 3-point range and missed nine of their 25 free throw attempts, but it didn't matter because the defense went up a few levels from the previous games.

Boston continues its road trip Thursday night against the Miami Heat, who have the best record in the Eastern Conference at 6-1.

Here are three takeaways from Celtics-Magic.

1) C's turn up the defense to shut down Orlando

Wednesday night's performance was exactly what the Celtics needed after Monday night's frustrating loss to the Bulls.

The most impressive aspect of this win for Boston was its defense. The Celtics entered Wednesday giving up the most points per game (119.5) of any team in the league, but they held the Magic to just 79 points on 32.1 percent shooting. The C's blocked nine shots, out-rebounded the Magic 50-46 and held them to just 20.9 percent (9-for-43) from 3-point range.

Sean Grande of 98.5 The Sports Hub provided some context to those numbers in the following tweet:

The Celtics set the tone right from the start of the third quarter, jumping out to a 14-0 run and opening up a huge lead. The Magic made a mini-run in the fourth quarter, but unlike the previous three games, the C's executed well at both ends of the floor to avoid another late collapse.

 

2) Magic can't cool off Jaylen Brown

We've talked about Brown's hot start to the season a few times in this space, but it's worthy of another mention after his latest impressive performance.

Brown led the Celtics with 17 points at halftime and finished with 28 on 10-for-17 shooting, along with five rebounds, three assists and a steal in 32 minutes.

The 25-year-old guard has been aggressive driving to the basket and attacking defenses in the paint all season, and that trend continued versus the Magic.

Brown even showed off his playmaking skills with a sweet behind-the-back pass to Robert Williams III for an easy basket.

Brown is averaging a team-leading 26.7 points through seven games. He's also shooting a career-high 49.6 percent from the field and often carrying the entire offense during stretches when his teammates are struggling.

The Celtics needed Brown and Jayson Tatum to reach another level this season after both made the All-Star Game in 2020-21. So far, Brown has risen to the challenge.

3) Al Horford giving C's a little of everything

A strong case could be made for Horford as the Celtics' most complete player right now.

He nearly posted a triple-double against the Magic -- scoring 12 points with 12 rebounds and seven assists. The veteran center also blocked three shots and leads the league with 3.2 blocks per game.

Here's an example of Horford's defense turning into points at the other end of the floor. He even ran the fast break in this sequence:

Horford is playing like he recently found the fountain of youth, and it's been a huge benefit to the Celtics. He's currently averaging 14.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, which is tremendous production from your 35-year-old backup center.