Boston (46-22) are opening a stretch in which they play eight of their next ten games on the road, including a four-game West Coast swing. The Celtics are 4.5 games behind the Raptors heading into play Thursday night, and without All-Star guard Kyrie Irving as he continues to rest his ailing left knee, there does not seem to be an avenue for Boston to overtake Toronto for both the Atlantic Division and top seed in the Eastern Conference.
Still, Boston battled without Irving and fellow starters Jaylen Brown and Al Horford, losing 125-124 in double overtime to Washington on Wednesday night. The Celtics squandered a 20-point frst-half lead and a season-high 31 points from Marcus Morris before Jayson Tatum's potential game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds of the second extra period missed the mark.
Irving did fly with the team to Orlando but Brown, who is still in concussion protocol, did not. Horford is day-to-day with an illness, and the Celtics are also still without reserves Marcus Smart and Dan Theis. The four reserves coach Brad Stevens used all contributed and accounted for 42 points, with Greg Monroe leading the quartet with 16.
Orlando (21-48) snapped a five-game losing streak in surprising fashion, upending Milwaukee 126-117 on Wednesday night despite playing without injured starters Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier. The Magic's starting backcourt of Jonathan Simmons and D. J. Augustin accounted for 67 points while going a combined 13 for 21 from 3-point range.
Simmons scored a career-high 35 and Augustin added a season-best 32 as Orlando, who had been drilled at San Antonio by 36 the night before, tied a season high with 18 3-pointers. The Magic have lost 12 of their last 15 overall but are looking for a fourth consecutive home win.