Ford Keys to the Game: Magic 56, Celtics 87
Magic 56, Celtics 87
The Key Moment of tonight’s game might have been when Doc Rivers delivered the news to his players and the rest of the world that they’d be without five key men, including Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Mickael Pietrus, Keyon Dooling and Chris Wilcox.
On a regular night, that news would essentially make it be known that the Celtics were on their way to a big loss to one of the league’s top teams in the Orlando Magic.
But tonight was everything but normal.
Rivers must have given one heck of a speech to his 10 active players before the game, because they came out and gave the most inspired 48 minutes of basketball the team have put together all season long. On the other flip side, Stan Van Gundy must not have revved up his players very much, because they played about as poorly as possible against an undermanned Boston team.
The pace of this game was dictated from the very start by the outstanding defensive performance of Boston’s starters. That group included second-year point guard Avery Bradley and Sasha Pavlovic, who started in place of the injured Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen.
Bradley, Pavlovic and the rest of the Celtics were on a mission to pressure the basketball at every opportunity tonight. They succeeded in that goal and took Orlando’s offense completely out of the game.
The incredible ball pressure forced the Magic to often set up their offense with their point guard barely over the half court line. That just didn’t work, as Bradley, Pavlovic and every other Celtic were flying around to defend any passes Jameer Nelson tried to make from the perimeter. Without an active Nelson, who finished with just five points and three assists, Orlando’s offense was nowhere to be found.
Boston’s stout defense continued for the entire 48 minutes and wound up limiting the Magic to just 56 points on 24.6 percent shooting from the floor. Read that again: 56 points on 24.6 percent shooting from the floor. The 56-point scoring output by Orlando matches the least amount of points the Celtics have ever allowed in a single game during the shot clock era.
Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy perfectly explained Boston's defensive performance after the game.
"I think they came out and just absolutely dominated us with their energy and their defensive intensity," he said. "Avery Bradley set a great tone. We had trouble even getting the ball into the scoring area. They were denying every pass. We struggled getting it there. Then because of the pressure; and its happened before, but not to this bad a level; we really went sideways and instead of executing better and moving the ball and making the extra pass and getting the third and fourth options we had slowly just panicked and it became a one-on-one game. One-on-one they dominated us. It didn’t start well and it got worse as the game went on. That’s the most dominating defensive performance I have ever had against me"
This dominant performance didn’t begin when the ball went up tonight. Instead, the tone was set before the game when Boston’s players were inspired and Orlando’s were lulled to sleep. The electric energy and ball pressure were contagious from that point on, and there’s no stopping the Celtics when they play defense like that.
Key Box Score Line
Although Paul Pierce put together another great all around game for the second consecutive day, Brandon Bass will be able to find his name here tomorrow morning. Playing against his former team for the very first time, Bass went out and dominated the Magic en route to a game-high 19 points. He also grabbed eight rebounds, dished out a rare assist and turned the ball over just once.
Keep in mind that Bass recorded all of those numbers off of the bench. He badly outplayed the power forward he was traded for, Glen Davis, who finished with just six points on 2-of-9 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds.
Bass missed his first few shots of the night, but after that it was all about him and the Celtics. Boston was dominant while Bass was on the floor and outscored Orlando by 23 points during his 34 minutes of playing time. That’s how you make a statement to your former team.
Box Score Nuggets
- All 10 active Celtics finished with a positive plus/minus rating, led by six who finished with at least a plus-19 rating.
- Orlando's 56 points were the least scored against the Celtics in Boston's franchise history.
- Brandon Bass and Paul Pierce tied for the game high in scoring with 19 points apiece.
- Pierce also notched a game-high seven assists.
- The Celtics shot 19-of-19 from the free-throw line.
- Orlando made just 24.6 percent of its shot attempts in the game.
- Dwight Howard led Orlando with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
- The Celtics outrebounded the Magic 46-44.
- Boston finished with 13 steals in the game, led by five from Kevin Garnett.
- Garnett also led the C's in rebounding with 10 boards and scored 14 points.
- Starting in place of Ray Allen, Sasha Pavlovic logged nine points, four rebounds, two steals and two blocks.
- Howard shot just 10-of-18 from the free-throw line.
- Every active Boston player finished with a positive plus/minus rating, and every active Magic player finished with a negative plus/minus rating.
- The Celtics led by as many as 33 points in the game.
- Orlando (25.0 percent) actually outshot Boston (15.4 percent) from downtown.
Quote of the Night
Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy on Avery Bradley's defense: "His defense set the whole tone for the entire thing. He took us out; we had a hard time getting the ball down and getting into offense. I think, obviously right now our main concern is tomorrow night in Indiana, but before we play on Thursday from an offensive standpoint the first thing is going to be how can we get the ball down the court and into our offense.."