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The Celtics took a big lead in the fourth quarter and weathered a late burst. They retired to claim a victory over the Orlando Magic, scoring 23 of their 40 field goals from 3-point range. The win broke a three-game streak of bad luck and gave the Celtics a much-needed break from the (deserved) negativity that was swirling around the team.
Brown was excellent behind the 3-point line, shooting from the bottom in a number of ways . For distances that season, he was one of the league’s top middle distance shooters and one of the Celtics’ best attackers. When he comes down he is dangerous.
To say that the Celtics « needed a victory badly » is a massive understatement. The Celtics need a series of wins, a big confidence boost, and maybe a move or two by the deadline. Beating a struggling Orlando team won’t turn the tide of the season.
Even so, winning streaks and confidence have to start somewhere, and Sunday’s win is as good as any other place to build some momentum. </ 1. Brown led the Celtics and buried a lot of threesomes, but more importantly, he gave the Celtics a push to insult at just the right time. When Orlando pushed in the fourth quarter (more on that in a minute), Brown buried two big triples that pushed the lead back again. In the first half, Brown's hot shooting clearly expressed the lead.
Brown was only a 3-pointer behind the team’s single-game record for 3-pointers. The record holder? His teammate Marcus Smart.
2. The Celtics almost dropped the ball. In the fourth quarter, they saw a 21-point lead drop to eight when Evan Fournier’s foot on the line hit a jumper. The Celtics went ice cold and Orlando seemed to find a rhythm. A familiar story seemed to be playing out.
The Celtics had a little pause, however. They flipped the ball and Fournier ran up the floor to reduce the lead to six. Instead, Fournier pulled a hard triple and missed. At the other end, the Celtics got a midfield jumper from Daniel Theis. On the next possession Fournier missed another 3 and the Celtics got two free throws. Brown buried a triple and the game was back in control.
3. In the first half, Orlando insisted on defending Jayson Tatum in drop coverage around the pick and roll – putting his greats back in Paint sent to curb its drives, leaving Tatum’s defenders (often Aaron Gordon) on an island. This strategy is designed to hide slow, tall defenders that cannot contain perimeter players.
However, Tatum is not a player that teams can defend with drop pick and roll cover. He punished Orlando with a flurry of triples that helped build a double-digit lead.
4. The Celtics bank only got 17 points, some of which came in garbage time. Almost all of the offensive work was done by the starters – especially Brown, with some help from Tatum.
The victories are encouraging, but Sunday’s win did little to allay some of the Celtics’ biggest worries – especially the depth. Jaylen Brown is a deserved all-star, but don’t expect him to shoot 10:18 out of 3-point range every night.
5. The last two games have been opportunities to set multiple potential trading targets on the upcoming date to see. In the loss on Friday, the Celtics faced Harrison Barnes – one of the most popular names. On Sunday, they faced Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic, both of whom reportedly generated interest.
The results were pretty mixed. Gordon fits the Celtics timeline, but his game may not fit perfectly. Vucevic was relatively calm. Barnes has been solid, but Sacramento will have plenty of applicants when it becomes available. What happens on the due date will be fascinating to see.
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