With the playoff picture tightening, the Celtics had a chance to pick up a game against a struggling and shorthanded Orlando Magic team. They made the most of their opportunity, never trailing in a 132-96 win on Wednesday night.
The win is the Celtics’ third in their last four games, and improves their record to 35-31. That puts them in a tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference with the Miami Heat. The Celtics currently own the tiebreaker with the Heat, but the teams still play two more times this season.
On Wednesday night, Boston jumped out to a 19-6 lead, forcing a pair of early Orlando timeouts. Evan Fournier helped set a strong defensive tone against his former team, with two steals in the first six minutes. The Magic settled down but couldn’t make up any ground, and the C’s led 39-27 after one quarter.
Jayson Tatum got rolling in the second quarter and helped the Celtics extend their lead. He scored 12 points in the frame, and was the driving force behind a 13-3 run. Heading into the half, Boston led 63-45.
In the third quarter, it was Kemba Walker’s turn to heat up. He scored 11 points in the first three and a half minutes. Behind Walker’s outburst the Celtics built up a 25 point lead, and led 100-75 after three quarters.
Orlando failed to close the gap in the fourth quarter, which allowed Brad Stevens to rest his starters. With a potential play-in seed on the line in the coming weeks, and a condensed schedule, that rest could be key. In the end, all 14 active Celtics played at least five minutes.
Walker ended up leading all scorers with 32 points on 11-of-18 shooting, including 6-of-9 from three. Tatum followed him with 27 points, while Fournier put up 18 against his former team, and Payton Pritchard contributed 12 off the bench.
The Celtics will stay on the road for their next game, which is Friday in Chicago. Tip-off against the Bulls is set for 7:30 p.m., with pregame coverage beginning at 7:00 on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.