Down the stretch, the Boston Celtics have often been at their best offensively.
That was not the case on Saturday night as the Celtics dropped a 105-103 loss to the Orlando Magic fueled in part by what appeared to be a late-game miscommunication.
Trailing 105-103, Boston's Gordon Hayward was set to inbound the ball. He tossed it in to Jayson Tatum who launched a tightly contested baseline jumper as time expired.
The shot was off the mark, but before Tatum had released the shot you could tell something wasn't right.
Kyrie Irving immediately raised his arms and once the cameras panned on him, he voiced his displeasure about the play to Hayward who apparently was supposed to inbound the ball to Al Horford which would have likely led to the Magic having to defend Irving and Horford in a high pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop scenario which for most of the night, Orlando struggled to defend effectively.
While it certainly was a factor in Boston's loss, by no means was it the only reason for the Celtics (25-17) dropping its second straight game.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s loss to the Orlando Magic, the fourth time in their last five matchups that Orlando emerged victorious.
Aaron Gordon: It was indeed a strong performance by Aaron Gordon who finished with a double-double of 28 points and 12 rebounds.
Terrence Ross: The Magic got strong play from their second unit, led by Terrence Ross’ 25 points.
Kyrie Irving: After a not-so-stellar start, Kyrie Irving really picked it up in the second half for Boston to lead the Celtics with 24 points - 16 of which came in the second half.
Nikola Vucevic: He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (he was 7-for-18) for the game, but came up with some clutch baskets at the rim while being defended by Al Horford. He would finish the game with a double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds to go with five assists.
Jayson Tatum: The pursuit of more shot attempts has been a given recently when it comes to Jayson Tatum. And Saturday’s game against Orlando was no exception. Tatum had 16 points and six rebounds.
Marcus Morris: Morris was Boston’s second-leading scorer and had a near double-double, tallying 17 points to go with eight rebounds.
Celtics free throw shooting: Free throw shooting was a major problem for the Boston Celtics, connecting on just 67.9 percent of their free throws (19-for-28) which was among the many factors contributing to the loss.
Celtics late-game execution: The miscommunication in the closing seconds was atypical of what we've come to expect from the Celtics under Brad Stevens. The body language inside the huddle before they went on to the floor prior to the final play, wasn't great, either. No matter how you want to look at it, the Celtics did not look like themselves when it mattered most.
Celtics bench: At no point did they impact the game in a positive way for Boston, whether it be scoring, rebounding or defense. They would tally just 26 points which was one more point than Terrence Ross had by himself off the Magic bench. Khem Birch was the only other Orlando backup to score (he had four points), but his impact was on the glass where he grabbed 10 rebounds in just over 17 minutes.
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