Long story short, it didn’t take the Raptors long to get their asses kicked in Beantown on Friday.
Wednesday’s game was frustrating because it was winnable, but competitive. Last night wasn’t close. The Celtics were missing Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon, who torched Toronto for 29 points off the bench last game. That didn’t matter at all.
Toronto began this game locked in defensively by forcing a few turnovers but didn’t capitalize on offence. Early possessions ended in turnovers. Then the Raptors defence quickly fell apart.
The Celtics scored inside on historic efficiency, with very little resistance. When Toronto tried its luck in the paint, Robert Williams and Al Horford were often in the way with three blocks apiece.
Boston led by 35 at one point in the first half, even though the Raptors played their typical possession game with 10 more shot attempts.
The difference? Boston shot 60 percent from the field. Toronto mustered half that percentage.
Jayson Tatum had a light day at the office. He only played 20 first half minutes, scoring 21 points and setting a Celtics record for the highest ppg average for a single season. Larry Bird’s 29.9 mark in 1987-88 stood for 35 years but Tatum is now officially the first Boston player to eclipse 30.
Nick Nurse tried his best to explain what happened in the first half.
Aside from terrible defence from a team that owned the second best defensive rating since the All-Star break, the Raptors also lost the hustle battles. Here are two quick examples.
Shout out (or maybe pity?) to whoever was still watching by the time Blake Griffin dished that pretty assist to Payton Pritchard in the fourth quarter.
So it’s settled. No more Hawks updates (they lost to Philly by the way) because the Raptors are now locked into the nine seed and will face Chicago on Wednesday. Toronto will need to win that game, and then defeat the loser of Miami-Atlanta’s play-in game on Friday. The Raptors can only play top seeded Milwaukee in the first round of the playoffs if successful. Boston is out of the question and judging from these two contests, that’s probably a good thing.
Fred VanVleet didn’t play well in this two game set, but he’s saying there’s a chance.
Up Next: A meaningless 1pm ET regular season finale vs Milwaukee at home on Sunday. The East playoff picture is already set, regulars will see few (if any) minutes.
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