Boston Celtics

Celtics-Magic takeaways: C's loss damages in-season tournament title hopes

The Magic continued their winning ways against the Celtics.

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The Boston Celtics just can't beat the Orlando Magic.

The Magic extended their win streak over the Celtics to four, dating back to last season, with a 113-96 victory at Amway Center in Friday afternoon's NBA In-Season Tournament game. Boston can still reach the quarterfinals of the in-season tournament, but it needs a little help (more on that below).

The Celtics had a 56-48 lead at halftime, and then essentially lost the game in the third quarter. The Magic outscored the C's 29-18 in that quarter, including a 17-0 run. They outscored the Celtics 65-40 in the second half. Orlando played harder, defended better and absolutely dominated on the glass.

Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 26 points on 7-for-16 shooting. Jaylen Brown scored 12 points in the first quarter but finished with just 18 on 6-for-22 shooting overall.

Making matters worse for the Celtics was center Kristaps Porzingis leaving the game in the third quarter with left calf tightness. Point guard Jrue Holiday missed his first game of the season with an ankle sprain.

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The Celtics will be back in action Sunday when they host the Atlanta Hawks at TD Garden. But before we look ahead to that matchup, here are four takeaways from Celtics-Magic.

C's had no answer for Mo Wagner

Wagner was one of the catalysts for the Magic as they went on separate runs of 17-0 and 10-0 in the second half.

The ex-Celtic tortured his former teammates with a season-high 27 points on 9-for-13 shooting. A lot of his scoring came in the paint, and he did a great job getting to the free throw line, where he hit eight of nine attempts.

The Magic outscored the Celtics by 15 during Wagner's 24 minutes of action. He's averaging 17 points in his last four matchups vs. the Celtics.

Self-inflicted mistakes cost C's

The Celtics could have won this game. They led by 12 points at one point in the first half. They also got off to a great start with a 30-19 lead after the first quarter.

But a bunch of self-inflicted mistakes ended up being too much to overcome. At the top of the list is free throw shooting. The Celtics shot 27-for-37 at the free throw line. They missed four consecutive foul shots between the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth quarter. It's always hard to win when you miss 10 foul shots in one game.

Boston also committed 15 turnovers, which led to 14 points for Orlando. The Magic are a young, athletic team that loves to push the pace and score in transition. Turning the ball over allows them to ignite that fast-break offense.

Magic dominated Celtics on the glass

The Magic outrebounded the Celtics 48-31, including a massive 13-4 edge in offensive rebounds. Orlando had five players tally five or more rebounds, with Franz Wagner leading the way with eight rebounds.

This edge on the glass helped the Magic earn a 21-8 advantage in second-chance points.

Not only did the Magic own the boards, they also outscored the Celtics 60-40 in the paint. Losing Porzingis in the third quarter due to left calf tightness hurt the Celtics in the paint, but there's still no reason for Orlando to dominate to that degree.

The Celtics came into this game as the third-best rebounding team at 47.1 per game, but they had a really tough time in this game boxing out and dealing with the Magic's size and toughness in the frontcourt.

Celtics can still advance to knockout rounds

All the Celtics needed to clinch first place in Group C was a win over the Magic. The C's can still advance to the quarterfinals of the in-season tournament despite Sunday's defeat, but they need a little help.

The Celtics do have a path to winning Group C. That would require beating the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday at TD Garden, combined with the Nets defeating the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. These results would create a three-way tie for first place with the C's, Magic and Nets all 3-1. Point differential would then determine the group winner.

So the Celtics could still win the group at 3-1 and a better point differential than the Magic and Nets. However, the Celtics' point differential after three games is zero. The Magic are at plus-22 and the Nets are plus-8. So not only do the C's need to beat the Bulls, they need to win by as many points as possible.

Boston could also get to the knockout stage as a wild card team. This would likely require a win over the Bulls and a better point differential than the other teams in the Eastern Conference groups that don't finish first.

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