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Celtics mental and physical toughness brings 124-97 crushing of Orlando Magic


I never expected the Celtics much-depleted roster to dominate the Orlando magic to the tune of 124-97. But they did it. 

Jaylen Brown reappeared from the COVID-generated mist to distribute the ball (8 assists) and score a team-high 21 points on 50% from the field, 2-of-5 on threes and, get this, a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line. Getting better at the charity stripe has just been another part of Jaylen's journey to All-Stardom.

Payton Pritchard once again stood out, producing 16 points, four boards and five assists. He seems too damn consistent for a rookie, but Celtics fans love it. By the way, get him a better nickname before it's too late!

Talking of consistency, much-maligned Semi Ojeleye came through again with 18 points (6-of-10 FG, 3-of-6 on 3s) and six rebounds. He keeps getting the minutes out of necessity, and we may see that continue once the roster is back to whatever is considered normal by today's standards.

Jeff Teague needs a mention here with his 17 points, two assists and two steals. He was acquired as insurance to counter Kemba Walker's potential absence due to injury, and he fits that role nicely.

We often take Marcus Smart for granted. He is a walking example of Red Auerbach's theory that ":you can't transform a non-shooter into a marksman". Marcus will never be Ray Allen, but he did score 14 points last night, hitting only 5-of-13 from the field - but an acceptable 4-of-10 from beyond the arc. But his team-high plus/minus of +28 tells us that the Celtics need him out there.

Two nice moments from the game. Tacko's off-the-glass set shot got a lot of attention for good reason, but it was Javonte Green's baseline drive and jam that brought me back to the days of the late Reggie Lewis. It was one of Reggie's favorite moves, and it was elevating (pun intended) to watch Javonte duplicate it. 

The Celtics have now won five games in a row. I love the way this team has faced such adversity with a mental and physical toughness that many, including me, thought was not in them.

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