This season hasn’t gone according to plan for the Boston Celtics, as they entered Sunday night’s game against the Magic at 17-19, barely holding onto a play-in position in the East. There have been injuries and the roster inconsistencies that all teams have dealt with due to players going in and out of COVID protocols, but even when the team has had most of its roster intact, they have just not been able to finish games off.
Boston has had the third worst fourth quarter net rating in the NBA this season (-8.0), and their inability to close out games has been a bit of a surprise given the presence of their two stars in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. As Marcus Smart complained about early this season, teams have been able to focus almost solely on those two late in games and, if they slow them down, they likely slow the Celtics down as they lean so heavily on those two to create shots for themselves (with Smart wanting them to take on a greater facilitating role).
On Sunday, however, that was not an issue as Jaylen Brown put the Celtics on his back and carried them to a comeback win over a scrappy Magic team, scoring 50 points on the night including 21 in the fourth and the dagger in overtime to get Boston a much needed 116-111 win.
— NBA (@NBA) January 3, 2022
Brown had 11 rebounds and four assists to go along with his 50-point outburst, and that gives Boston a two-game winning streak that they will hope to build off of with some winnable games coming up against the Spurs, Knicks (x2), and Pacers (x2). For Brown, he’ll hope this is the start of a quality stretch as he has seen his normally high efficiency slip this season, as he had his own battle with COVID and a hamstring issue that have seemed to kept him from getting into a rhythm thus far.