Are the Boston Celtics the clear-cut best team in the NBA? Fans are a bit regretful because there is only one thing missing..

Are the Boston Celtics the clear-cut best team in the NBA? This was the question of the day on a recent episode of the popular ESPN “NBA Today” show after the Celtics managed to wallop the Orlando Magic 128-111 despite being down their three top centers.

The conversation on the show explored key factors contributing to the team’s success, including roster dynamics and recent additions, as well as how they stack up to the league’s reigning champs, the Denver Nuggets, and other teams doing well early in the 2023-24 season. Former Boston big man Kendrick Perkins raised some concerns about the Celtics’ depth and questioned their ability to maintain their current level of success over the course of a long, 82-game regular season.

To hear their conversation on just how good they believe Boston is to start the season, check out the link embedded below.

HIGHLIGHTS: Celtics dominate Magic to improve to 13-0 at homeScroll back up to restore default view.

Celtics-Magic takeaways: Pritchard lights out as C’s finally beat Magic originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Three Key Storylines

Pritchard lights out from deep

Bench steps up with Porzingis and Horford absent

C’s win turnover battle in big way with season-high 14 steals

After losing four straight games to the Orlando Magic, the Boston Celtics finally got their win

In the second night of a back-to-back after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night, the Celtics were without key players in Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford against a team that they just haven’t been able to beat recently. Luke Kornet and Dalano Banton were also absent.

Going down early, the Celtics brought a 9-2 deficit down to a 15-9 deficit, and then never looked back en route to a 128-111 win.

Friday night’s win makes Boston 13-0 at home this season, which is the franchise’s second-longest home win streak to start a season, only behind the 17-0 home streak the 1957-58 Celtics went on to start their season.

Jayson Tatum, who logged some minutes playing center, again led the Celtics in scoring with 30 points, while five other Celtics players reached double digits, including three players off the bench.

Magic guard Jalen Suggs battled a hand/wrist injury suffered in the first quarter, causing him to miss time during the game. He had an X-ray that came back negative during the halftime break.

The Celtics will take on the Magic again this Sunday at 3 p.m. ET at TD Garden. Here are our takeaways from Friday’s victory:

Pritchard lights out from deep
Coming off the bench, Payton Pritchard led the way in terms of perimeter scoring. While the rest of the team struggled from deep, Pritchard ended the night with 21 points on 6-of-7 shooting from deep.

Coming in as a sub in the first quarter, Pritchard immediately made a difference by sinking 3-of-4 of his deep shots for 9 points, while the rest of the team combined for 1-of-11 from distance.

Jrue Holiday and Derrick White struggled in the first half, combining for five points on a combined 2-of-12 shooting.

After a slow first half, the rest of Boston’s roster slowly started heating up from deep. From deep, Sam Hauser and Holiday finished 3-of-6 and 2-3, respectively. The star duo of Jaylen Brown and Tatum had a rough night from downtown, shooting 2-of-9 and 0-5, respectively.

As a team, Boston ended the night converting on 18-of-42 perimeter shots (42.9 percent), compared to the Magic’s 14-of-35 (40 percent).

Bench steps up with Horford and Porzingis absent

With Horford always resting on the second night of back-to-backs and Porzingis out with his nagging calf injury, Boston’s bench stepped up in a big way.

While Lamar Stevens took the starting role, it was Pritchard, Hauser, and Oshae Brissett who stepped up for the Celtics.

In 14 minutes, Stevens found ways to contribute outside of scoring. Along with his eight points and three rebounds, Stevens was a menace on the defensive end with two steals and a block.

Hauser made a difference in all aspects of the game. Outside of his 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting, Hauser also tallied seven rebounds, four assists, and four steals. He also logged the second most minutes, only behind Tatum, with 31.

Brissett finished the night on a perfect 100 percent from the field on 4-of-4 shooting, including a deep ball. He also logged a rebound and an assist in his 18 minutes on the floor.

Aside from Pritchard’s 21 points, the guard also contributed five assists, three rebounds, and a steal — he also ended the night winning a Tommy Award.

Neemias Queta also received meaningful minutes in Friday’s win. The big man played 18 minutes, logging four points on 2-of-3 shooting, with three rebounds, two blocks, an assist, and a steal. What won’t show up in the stat sheet, however, is Queta’s ability to play drop-back defense and defend the paint.

C’s win turnover battle

The Celtics played efficient basketball Friday night. With 31 assists, Boston was moving the ball around freely and never forcing anything, which greatly reduced the number of turnovers.

Boston played great defense, forcing the Magic to turn the ball over 21 times, compared to Boston’s 10.

White and Hauser led the way on defense with four steals a piece, with Stevens and Holiday both getting two each. The team recorded a season-high 14 steals combined.

Queta led the way in blocks with two, with four other Celtic players each logging a block, putting them above their 6.1 blocks per game average this season.

Six of the team’s 10 turnover came from Brown, Tatum, and Brissett, who each logged two. Magic’s Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero combined for 11 of the team’s 21 turnovers.

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