Celtics-Magic takeaways: Banchero, Magic hand C’s another loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Orlando Magic have the Boston Celtics’ number at TD Garden, it appears.
The Magic edged the Celtics 95-92 on the road Sunday afternoon to complete a mini-series sweep of Boston and drop the C’s to 1-4 in their last five games. Orlando has now won six in a row after beginning the season 5-20.
The Celtics had their work cut out for them Sunday with Jayson Tatum out due to personal reasons. Jaylen Brown led the team with 24 points and 14 rebounds, while Marcus Smart (15 points), Grant Williams (14 points) and Malcolm Brogdon (12 points) also reached double figures.
Boston struggled from 3-point range once again, however, while Magic rookie Paolo Banchero went off for a game-high 31 points to power Orlando to victory.
Here are our takeaways from a Celtics loss that drops them to 22-9 on the season.
Boston’s late rally falls short
The Celtics had the chance to escape with a victory, pulling within one point on a Brogdon 3-pointer and getting the ball back after Smart dove on a loose ball off a Magic inbound pass.
Boston failed to execute its own inbound play, however, as Grant Williams’ errant pass was picked off by Orlando, leading to a pair of Mo Wagner free throws that sealed the Magic’s victory.
Jaylen Brown steps up on both ends
It’s hard to pin this loss on Brown, who stuffed the stat sheet in Tatum’s absence.
While Brown struggled from 3-point range (2 for 10), he racked up three steals and a pair of blocks while grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds. The 26-year-old also hit several big shots down the stretch to keep the Celtics within striking distance.
Brown needed more help, however, as Boston’s bench (outside Brogdon) struggled for the second consecutive game. Robert Williams, Sam Hauser and Payton Pritchard combined for just 11 points on 5 of 12 shooting.
Celtics’ shooting is regressing to the mean
The Celtics began the season red-hot from beyond the arc and entered last Saturday’s game against the Golden State Warriors shooting better than 40 percent as a team from 3-point range.
They’ve cooled off considerably since then, though, and that trend continued Sunday at TD Garden.
Boston shot just 25.5 percent from three (12 of 47) against Orlando, one game after hitting just 11 of 46 deep shots versus the Magic on Friday. The C’s are shooting 28.6 percent from distance over a five-game span in which they’ve gone 1-4.
Many of Boston’s attempts Sunday were quality looks, and you could argue a regression was coming at some point after the team’s scorching start to the season. But if the last five games have proven anything, it’s that the Celtics need to find other ways to score when their outside shots aren’t falling.
That includes attacking the basket, as Boston only scored 34 of its 92 points in the paint Sunday.
Paolo Banchero is the real deal
The Magic have had mixed results with top-10 picks, to put it kindly. But they may have a future superstar in Banchero.
The 2022 No. 1 pick out of Duke got busy against the Celtics on Sunday, pouring in 22 first-half points while showcasing an impressive array of moves.
Banchero scored at all three levels, hitting 6 of 7 3-pointers while using his 6-foot-10, 250-pound frame to get into the paint at will.
While the Celtics did a better job containing him in the second half, the rookie looked like the best player on the floor, which is saying something considering Boston’s talent.
Orlando might be lottery-bound again this season, but the long-term future is bright as long as Banchero is on the roster.