The banged up Celtics rally from 16 down to beat the Orlando Magic 109-98 on the road.
The Celtics had every reason not to win this game; they were missing two starters in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, as well as Enes Kanter who has been dominating the glass. Couple that with the fact they were facing 16-point deficit early, they could have just packed it up and moved onto the next game. But they didn’t, they turned it into an 11-point victory on the road. Here are my takeaways from the game:
1. Kemba Walker
Kemba had 37 points on 12-23 shooting, 2 rebounds, and 6 assists against the Magic. There is a decent chance Kemba was having flashbacks to his days in Charlotte because he was virtually alone out there. Walker scored over half of the Celtic’s points through two quarters (27 out of 53). If he wasn’t keeping Boston within striking distance, the C’s would have been facing an embarrassing blowout loss at the hands of the 7th seed in the East.
This game was set up to be a grind from the beginning; the Celtics were missing two 20-point scoring starters and their leading rebounder tonight. It makes sense why Boston would struggle on offense, while Jayson and Jaylen are also excellent defenders, the Celtics have much more depth on the defensive end and bench scoring has been an issue all season.
3. Gordon Hayward
With all the aforementioned injuries, Gordon Hayward and Kemba Walker probably knew from the start it was going to be a long night for the both of them. Hayward led the team in minutes with 37 and Kemba wasn’t far behind with 36. However, in the first half it looked like Gordon Hayward was going to be a no-show too, he was helping on the glass all night but he also missed a hand full of lay-ups too.
In the second half, Hayward picked up where Kemba left off. His shot started falling and he began controlling the offense as a whole. Hayward finished the night with 22 points, a season-high 14 rebounds, 5 assists, and a +12 point differential.