Evan Fournier had said that when the Magic took the court against Boston on Friday they "had to play like it was a playoff game for us."
And yet, the Magic's defensive intensity to open the game reflected that of a preseason game rather than a postseason game.
The Magic allowed the Celtics to score 40 first quarter points en route to a 118-103 loss. It was the seventh straight loss for the Magic, dropping their record to 8-11.
The Magic were hitting shots of their own to open the game, but it still wasn't enough to keep pace with the Celtics, who shot 15 for 22 in the first quarter, including 7 of 12 from three-point range. Credit the Celtics for knocking down open looks, but fault the Magic for failing to be aggressive on screens, essentially manufacturing those open looks.
The Celtics, behind 17 first half points by Kyrie Irving, led 73-47 at the half. The 73 points allowed by the Magic were the most they've given up in a half this season. The Celtics shot 11-for-21 from long range in the half and shot 57 percent overall, which when combined with the Magic's 35 percent shooting performance, allowed Boston to build a commanding lead.
Frank Vogel elected to have Jonathon Simmons start the second half in place of Fournier, who checked in later in the third quarter. An interesting shake-up, an explanation for which should come when Vogel speaks to the media.
Vogel also seemed to remove Aaron Gordon from the game after he took an ill-advised fadeaway in the third.
The Celtics took their largest lead of the night on a play that was rather indicative of their performance. Simmons went under a screen, allowing Irving to get a good look at a three. Simmons attempted to contest and fouled Irving, who converted the free throws to open a 95-63 lead.
For the second straight game, the Magic, who trailed the Wolves by 26 entering the fourth on Wednesday, staged a fourth quarter rally to make the game seem closer than it was. Mo Speights drained four threes, the last of which cut the deficit to 104-88. A putback by Bismack Biyombo pulled the Magic within 14 but they'd get no closer.
The Magic shot 43.2 percent, and thanks to Mo Buckets late surge, hit 9 of 24 from downtown (37.5 percent). Simmons led the way with 14 points. Gordon shot just 2 of 10 for 11 points and Fournier was 3 of 13 for seven points. Nikola Vucevic and Elfrid Payton each had 12.
Irving finished with 30 points, including 10-for-10 from the line. Terry Rozier had a career-high 23 points, hitting 5 of 7 three-point attempts. Al Horford had just five points but added 10 assists for the Celtics, who shot 46.2 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from three (17-for-42).
So, the streaks continue. In addition to the Magic's current losing streak, they have now lost 14 straight games in Boston (not including the postseason).
Orlando will face another challenge on Saturday, taking on the 76ers on the second night of a back-to-back. No Ben Simmons, though. So there's that.