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Gameday: Raptors vs Celtics – Game 4, Sep. 5

With OG’s last second three, the Raptors have fought their way back into this series. First up, here’s Es’s 3 points: “I’m not sure that [game 3] doesn’t rank right up there with our gutsiest performances”. That was Nick Nurse in his post game presser after the Raptors somehow found a way to steal game ... Read more

With OG’s last second three, the Raptors have fought their way back into this series.

First up, here’s Es’s 3 points:

“I’m not sure that [game 3] doesn’t rank right up there with our gutsiest performances”. That was Nick Nurse in his post game presser after the Raptors somehow found a way to steal game 3. Every time the Raptors were down in game 3, they just found a way to claw their way back into the game. Despite giving up an 8-0 run late in the 4th quarter and being outscored 12-9 overall in the last 5:15 of the game, the Raptors dug deep and never quit. Then this happened.

Everything about this play was special. The play that Nick Nurse drew up with inspiration from an old Hubie Brown coaching DVD. The high arcing cross-court pass from Kyle Lowry over the 7’5″ Tacko Fall that was right on the money. And of course, the huge shot from OG Anunoby to save the season.

Down 2-1, the Raptors have plenty of encouraging things to take from game 3 as well as things they need to clean up.

The Good

1. OG Anunoby: OG has been the best shooter from behind the arc for the Raptors this series. The Celtics have been giving him good looks and OG has knocked them down. Through three games he’s shooting a blistering 57.1% on 4.7 attempts per game. With this uptick in offensive production, OG’s defense has remained stellar as well. For the series he’s averaging 1.3 steals per game to go along with 1.3 blocks per game. In game 3, he did an excellent job defending Jayson Tatum. In the 4:57 Tatum and Anunoby were matched up (which was the most on the team), OG held Tatum to 0-3 shooting and picked his pocket clean in the 3rd quarter.

I would expect that OG will continue to be the primary defender on Tatum as the series moves forward

2. Marc Gasol’s Rolls: Marc Gasol had his best game of the series in game 3. His defense was very good once again and his offensive production was vital. With Gasol struggling from three in the series (he hasn’t hit one yet), it was encouraging to see him aggressively get to the rim. Rather than pop, Gasol rolled hard to the basket in screen and roll actions, where he scored 8 of his 10 points.

Louis Zatzman brilliantly covered the slip-reject screen in his game 2 analysis, and it was once again effective in game 3. This play early in the game was perfect execution of the slip-reject screen and it led to an easy dunk for Gasol.

Another sequence where the reject slip screen led to a Gasol basket. Hard roll from Gasol once he recognizes Lowry rejecting the screen. Great pass from Lowry once again for the easy bucket.

This time it was Lowry snaking the pick and roll and keeping Theis engaged for just a split second longer. Gasol rolls hard once again and finishes through contact at the rim.

 

3. Vintage Kyle Lowry & Encouraging Signs for Pascal Siakam: Kyle Lowry’s game 3 performance was nothing short of spectacular. He was aggressive going to the rim and the Celtics just could not contain his dribble penetration. The 3pt shot started to fall as well in the second half which is very encouraging for game 4. Dropping 31-8-6 in a must-win game and playing with 5 fouls for the last 6:56 is why Lowry is the heart and soul of the Raptors

The first half from Siakam in game 3 was downright horrible. Got himself into foul trouble again and his only 2 points came at the free throw line. However, in the second half, we saw a much different Pascal Siakam. He made a couple of nice hard cuts and was much more decisive with the ball in his hands. His 14 second half points were huge for the Raptors offense, though he still struggled when Jaylen Brown was defending him. His dribble penetration was excellent and he made the right reads when he collapsed the defense. Maybe Siakam has found a blueprint to be more impactful offensively for the rest of the series.

The Bad

1. Drop Coverage vs Kemba 

Kemba Walker was feasting on the drop coverage against the Raptors bigs in game 3. He had an 81.3% eFG% on pull-ups in game three and shot 3-4 on pull-up threes. For the series now, Walker is shooting 54.5% on pull-up twos and 35.3% on pull up threes. The drop coverage, especially with Ibaka, is just giving Kemba too many good looks. Nurse has a variety of options to try and contain Walker’s pull-up shooting. Playing zone defense and trapping Kemba off of screens are good curveballs to throw at the Celtics offense to stop this action, but I don’t think the Raptors can do this all game long. It’s more of a secondary off-speed pitch to try and keep Boston off balance. The Raptors did try pre-switching the screener to get Siakam or Anunoby involved in the pick and roll, rather than Gasol, which is something I would like to see more off in game 4.

2. Heavy Minutes

The Raptors starters logged some heavy minutes in the game 3 victory. Lowry and OG both played over 45 minutes and Fred played over 40 minutes. With just one day of rest how fresh will their legs be? The Raptors are going to need more from their bench in game 4, especially after their starters logging big minutes.

Game info

Tip-off: 6:30 pm EST

TV: Sportsnet

Radio: 680 News

Raptors Lineups

PG: Kyle Lowry, Terence Davis II

SG: Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, Matt Thomas, Paul Watson

SF: OG Anunoby, Malcolm Miller, Stanley Johnson

PF: Pascal Siakam, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris Boucher

C: Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Dewan Hernandez

Injured/inactive:

  • Oshae Brissett (knee) – out
  • Patrick McCaw (knee) – out.

Celtics Lineups

PG: Kemba Walker, Brad Wanamaker, Carsen Edwards, Tremont Waters

SG: Marcus Smart, Romeo Langford

SF: Jaylen Brown, Semi Ojeleye

PF: Jayson Tatum, Grant Williams

C: Daniel Theis, Robert Williams, Enes Kanter

Injured/inactive:

  • Gordon Hayward (ankle) – out

 

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