NBA: Shorthanded Celtics aim to salvage season split with Magic
The Boston Celtics could be missing some key pieces when they travel to face the Orlando Magic on Monday night.
Injuries prevented guard Marcus Smart and center Robert Williams from playing in the second half of Boston’s 106-104 victory at Toronto on Saturday.
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Smart injured his right ankle in the final minute of the second quarter and was helped to the locker room. Williams suffered a left knee injury when he collided with teammate Jaylen Brown in the first quarter. He remained in the game, but didn’t see any action after halftime.
Williams had surgery on his left knee last March.
“Rob hyperextended his knee,” Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said. “It’s nothing serious, just obviously taking precaution. He felt good coming off the court. Smart, obviously you saw, sprained his ankle. X-rays were negative, it’s just a matter of how he’s able to cope with it day to day.”
The Celtics also played the entire game without leading scorer Jayson Tatum, who sat out the contest to rest his sore left wrist after he played 48 minutes in an overtime victory against Golden State on Thursday. Tatum is averaging 31.2 points and 8.5 rebounds per game this season.
Despite being short-handed, the Celtics extended their winning streak to nine games.
“It says a lot about our team,” Mazzulla said. “In the beginning of the game, you could obviously feel that we just didn’t have the juice. We just kept playing. We never wavered. We made great plays. Guys did a great job managing the game.”
Orlando never led during its 138-118 loss at Washington on Saturday night. Markelle Fultz led the Magic with 23 points. Franz Wagner added 20, and Paolo Banchero finished with 15.
“We just didn’t have the physicality tonight that we needed,” Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley said. “There was just a different level of energy. We didn’t have our presence and our physicality early with the ball pressure that we needed, and so they were comfortable stepping into each one of their shots.”
The 138 points are the most Orlando has allowed this season. The Wizards made 18 of their 34 3-point attempts (52.9 percent).
Saturday’s game will be the fourth and final regular-season meeting between Boston and Orlando this season, and the road team has prevailed in each of the previous three matchups. Tatum scored 40 points to propel the Celtics to a 126-120 victory in Orlando before the Magic posted 117-109 and 95-92 victories in back-to-back games played at Boston in December.
Moritz Wagner scored 25 points in Orlando’s first victory over Boston, and Banchero had 31 points in the second win. Tatum did not play in Boston’s 95-92 loss.
Banchero (20.7) and Franz Wagner (20.5) — Moe’s brother — enter Monday’s matchup as Orlando’s leading scorers.
Brown, who is averaging 26.9 points per game, led Boston with 27 points during Saturday’s win against Toronto. Grant Williams stepped up and added a season-high 25 points.
“To win on the road down a bunch of guys, it’s hard to do,” Brown said. “You don’t want to take it for granted, but we definitely have enough on this team, enough in this locker room, to win games whoever’s on the floor. So just (have to) come out and play basketball. Sometimes it’s going to be ugly like (Saturday night). Even when it’s ugly, you can still find ways to win the game.”
–Field Level Media
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