Rapid Recap: Kemba's firepower pushes Celtics through early slump to defeat Magic

Rapid Recap: Kemba's firepower pushes Celtics through early slump to defeat Magic

Celtics

Rapid Recap: Kemba's firepower pushes Celtics through early slump to defeat Magic

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Rapid Recap is designed for the busiest of Celtics fans. Whether you can’t stay awake to read 10 paragraphs or your hangover is just too much, Rapid Recap tells the timeline of the game in only a minute or two.

What do you do when you’re down two Jays and you fall 16 points behind to a flawed but hungry team in the form of the Orlando Magic? If you’re the Boston Celtics, well, you remember, “Oh yeah, we still have an Actual Superstar,” and let him cook. Kemba Walker delivered one of his sharpest scoring attacks of the season just two nights removed from an eight-point dud, canning 12-of-19 (including 6 made threes) for 37 points, plus 2 boards, 6 assists, 4 steals and a block. He kept Boston’s blood flowing even while the rest of the team was offensively out of whack.

Gordon Hayward also looked far more confident than he had in some of the January losses, particularly close to the basket, as his 22-14-5-1 line demonstrates (that’s a career high in rebounds for Gordo). And while Daniel Theis (16-6-4) didn’t always have the most comfortable matchup against Nikola Vucevic, he proved vital to sealing the victory on both ends.

It started well…

Then, Orlando’s size advantage showed itself somewhat (as well as Boston’s limited big-man options) and the Cs started missing shots real hard.

On some side notes, opinions differ about Carsen:

And, a question worth asking:

A key ingredient to Orlando’s success overall: Terrence Ross has recovered from his early-season slumber and is cooking again.

(That’s my podcast partner on the ground in Orlando there. Please check out THE ILLEGAL SCREEN, available on all major providers.)

Only the force of scoring will within Kemba kept the Celtics from falling way too far behind during Q2. He had 27 in the first half alone, and eventually the luck started spreading out:

This all trimmed Orlando’s lead, which was 6 points at Q1 and had ranged as high as 16, to a mere possession: 57-53 Magic at the half.

Brad Stevens whipped out what’s become one of his signature tricks this season when the second half began: weird opposing offenses the hell out with a variation on zone defense (usually 2-3, but not always). It didn’t stop the Magic from scoring but seriously messed with their pace and rhythm. On the other side of the ball:

(Obviously that’s overkill but let me laugh a bit.)

OK, now I’m done. Meanwhile, Orlando stayed alive because Vucevic is a guaranteed double-double and could push Daniel Theis around a bit. But, like, who cares, because we got this:

And although Theis wasn’t quite the defensive maestro he’s been of late against a center with well-documented scoring bona fides and a size advantage, offensively he came to get down:

Oh:

Also worth noting that Hayward was very much back on after a handful of so-so (and occasionally legitimately bad) games:

The fourth quarter was something of a mixed bag. Boston built up their lead to double digits, then began slipping somewhat and letting Fournier get going again—never a good thing, because he’s known to have his hot streaks against the Celtics:

Theis would end up being part of the game’s restabilization, albeit not without some give and take:

Between the game-long offensive dominance of Kemba and clutch late-stretch work from Theis and Smart, the Magic comeback was averted.

Box score

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