BOSTON Avery Bradley made life miserable as can be for Orlando's Jameer Nelson. Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O'Neal delivered the kind of 1-2 defensive punch that left Dwight Howard stunned most of the night.
Even seldom-used Sasha Pavlovic was making things happen defensively.
Pick a Celtics player, any player and chances are they were part of a historically dominant night as the C's pummeled the Magic, 87-56.
"They came out and just absolutely dominated us with their energy and their defensive intensity," said Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy. "That's the most dominating defensive performance I have ever had against me."
Van Gundy added, "It's the first game in my career I've been through where not one guy played well. We didn't have one guy. That was an absolute beat-down, and in most senses it was much worse than the score indicated."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been saying for weeks that the C's were improving, making the kind of strides that he believed would pay off sooner or later.
Rivers anticipated his team would give the Magic a fight, but he had no idea that they would dominate the Magic in such emphatic fashion.
The 56 points Boston gave up tied a franchise-low for points allowed in the shot clock era.
Boston also set a franchise record for allowing a franchise-low 20 points in the second half, in addition to limiting the Magic to just 16 made field goals which is also a franchise record.
And by limiting Orlando to just 24.6 percent shooting from the field, that was the second-lowest field goal percentage a team has shot against the C's in the shot clock era.
"That was great," Rivers said of his team's play. "I mean, defensively that was as good as you can get."
With their starting backcourt of Ray Allen (ankle) and Rajon Rondo (wrist) out, along with Keyon Dooling (knee), Chris Wilcox (calf) and Mickael Pietrus, there was clearly the potential for the Magic to have a major letdown.
"You know human nature," Rivers said. "Sometimes they see no Ray, and no Paul I mean no Rondo, and no Keyon. You never know how that affects a team. But, I mean, great win for us."
And it came about largely because of the defense, a defense that has shown flashes of being good but not this good.
Celtics Kevin Garnett talked about how the C's success defensively had a lot to do with their ability to execute the game at a higher rate than they have most games this season.
"It was just one of those grind games," Garnett said. "Everyone knew their assignments. And I can say for the first time in a long time, I think we carried out assignments to the perfection."
And while the Celtics are a better team when they have their roster intact, the fact that their roster was so depleted because of injuries had, in a strange way, helped bond the C's in a way that brought about Monday night's record-setting performance defensively.
"When you go into a fight undermanned, it's not more so the weapons; it's more so the fight," Garnett said. "Tonight, we just started fighting."