After Jeff Green’s miracle 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Celtics an improbable road win Saturday against the Miami Heat, Brad Stevens didn’t celebrate. He stood there, as still as a statue, arms crossed, expressionless, his classic pose, good or bad.
In his mind, though, the Celtics coach began worrying about a letdown in his team’s next game, Monday against the Orlando Magic at TD Garden. His mind works that way — immediately focusing on the future the moment that the present turns to past.
But there was no letdown, even though his team was playing a team that it had beaten just three days earlier. There was only a beat-down, as the Celtics destroyed the Magic, 120-105, to earn their fourth consecutive win.
After opening their season with four straight losses, these rebuilding Celtics, led by a rookie coach and with several new players, are 4-4 and are tied for the lead in the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division, ahead of 2-4 New York and 2-4 Brooklyn.
“The main thing we want to take is, we kind of felt like we gave the first four games away,” veteran swingman Gerald Wallace said, “but they were a learning experience for us, and we’ve gotten better and better.”
Stevens did not celebrate after the game, even though it was the first of the Celtics’ wins that wasn’t decided late in the fourth quarter. He was still concerned, he said, because he had come to learn that double-digit leads in the NBA can disappear as quickly as they arrive.
“That’s why I was on edge with 1:20 to go and [assistant coach] Ron Adams told me it was OK to smile,” Stevens said.
At that point, the Celtics had their largest lead of the game — 21 points. They had led ever since the 2:31 mark in the first quarter, when a Jordan Crawford pull-up jumper put them ahead, 23-21. The Celtics more or less dominated the game from that point, save for a brief third-quarter lapse.
The 3-5 Magic, who were led by 18 points from Aaron Afflalo, had been one of the best defensive teams in the NBA entering the game, allowing teams to shoot just 40 percent from the field, the second-best such mark in the league. But the Celtics torched their opponent, shooting 60 percent (51 of 85).
“One of those days,” Stevens said, shrugging it off.
Said Magic coach Jacque Vaughn, “Brad should send me a fruit basket. Ever since the second quarter of our game at our place, things have kind of gone the opposite direction. His team is playing extremely well and we haven’t played as well.”
All of the Celtics games had come down to final minutes of the fourth quarter — until Monday.
“It was a nice little test for us as well, because we haven’t been closing games very well, and I felt like we did today,” Avery Bradley said.
Seven Celtics scored in double figures, led by 24 points from Bradley, who made 10 of 15 shots, knocking down several mid-range jumpers.
It was Bradley’s best game yet since he was moved from the point guard position four games ago and replaced by Jordan Crawford.
Since that switch was made, the Celtics haven’t lost, Bradley has thrived and so has Crawford, who had 16 points and 10 assists, one short of his career-high, along with no turnovers in 32½ minutes.
“I feel that I’m a point guard. That’s other people that listed me at shooting guard,” Crawford said, a reference to his previous team, the Washington Wizards.
Rookie forward Kelly Olynyk made his second career start and had his best game as a Celtic, with 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Jeff Green also had 16 points and forward Jared Sullinger scored 14 points off the bench, making 7 of 9 shots. Courtney Lee added 12 off the bench.
The Celtics also totaled a season-high 28 assists, further evidence that they’re learning how they must play to shore up for their lack of a dynamic scoring threat.
“It’s awesome,” Green said, “not only for us, but it’s hard for other teams to scout when you have guys being aggressive and putting up numbers like that. It also allows me to continue to be aggressive because then [defenses] can’t help as much because you have guys who can score. That’s what we’ve got to do.”
Their unselfish style is also a product of new players building chemistry over time.
“We’ve grown a lot,” Bradley said. “Offensively, the ball [movement] at the beginning of the year was stagnant. We’re moving the ball very well because of trust.”
The Celtics also continued their running ways, outscoring the Magic, 20-4, in fast-break points while scoring 22 points off 19 Magic turnovers.
Orlando cut the Celtics’ lead to 65-62 in the third quarter, but Boston used a 12-4 run to take control. It was over from there.
But the Celtics didn’t pop any champagne corks after the win.
“I haven’t seen like these unbelievable celebrations in the locker room or anything else,” Stevens said. “They’re just pretty matter-of-fact, move on to what’s next, and the better teams that I’ve coached have been that way.’’
In other words, the players are starting to become like him, which a few admitted afterward.
“They haven’t learned a lot about me, but I hope they’ve learned that I’m going to go back to work tonight and I hope I’m going to try to make us a little bit better tomorrow,” Stevens said.
“That’s all we can do. You ride this emotional roller coaster if you don’t. All of the sudden, we’re 4-4 and we’ve got the whole world figured out when in essence that was only seven days ago when we were 0-4.
“This thing can turn quick and with our schedule as it continues this month, it can turn real quick. So we’ve just got to focus on day to day, game to game to see how good you can be on that night and know that you always have a chance to win or get beat.”