BOSTON - Someone could have made a lot of money if they bet on the Boston Celtics winning by thirty points tonight against the Orlando Magic. But then again, they would have also been sent to the insane asylum before the game.
As it turns out, that was the outcome. Boston picked apart the Orlando Magic, running away with their best victory of the season, 87-56, while tying a franchise record by holding the Magic to 56 points and only 20 points in the second half.
Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass were on their game, with each finishing with team-highs in points at 19. Pierce had seven assists and five rebounds while Bass grabbed eight boards in 34 minutes off the bench. Kevin Garnett was solid, finishing with a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds).
Avery Bradley and Sasha Pavlovic played well, too. Bradley starting in place of the injured Rajon Rondo (sore right wrist) and had six points, four rebounds and three assists while Pavlovic, who started for an injured Ray Allen (jammed left ankle), scored nine in 33 minutes for the Celts.
Boston was dominant in just about every category you could think of. Rebounds? Celtics owned the glass, 46-44. Assists? The C's had a 21-12 advantage. Shooting? Boston shot 42.3 percent while holding Orlando to 25 percent. Yes, 25 percent. In every sense of the word, it was a dominant performance from the C's. And almost nobody expected it.
"Well I didn't - let me just put it like you said - I didn't not expect it," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "I knew we were going to compete. You could feel it. You really could. I thought we kind of - I don't know if you want to say 'stumbled' on it because we didn't, but in that Washington game - you could see it after the Phoenix game - in the Washington game you could see offensively and defensively extra passes again. It looked like us, you know? So we knew that was coming. I really believe that. But the defense - that was as good as you're going to get. So, yeah, I don't think anybody saw that [coming]."
Boston has a chance to embarrass Orlando again this week, as they travel to Florida to face the Magic again. Rivers didn't have to pump up his team after the game, for obvious reasons. Nevertheless, this was a good start for Rivers' team as they picked up their first quality victory of the somewhat young season.
"We ain't going to get much better than this defensively, and I think it's a good blueprint for them," Rivers said. "But is also tells them how hard it was. It's hard work, I mean, Avery [Bradley] was dying out thereBut two weeks ago we couldn't have done this anyway, honestly, because of conditioning. We would have never lasted. So now it's a good sign we're getting in better conditioning. The minutes were pretty good with guys tonight; Kevin [Garnett] with 28, that's spectacular."
It's highly unlikely that the Celtics do this again Thursday, but who knows? Anything is possible.