Another really good day for our playoff teams.
The Boston Celtics finished off a relatively impressive sweep of the Philadelphia 76ers. There are definitely some areas of their play that need some fine tuning, but the team is at a pretty good spot heading into the series with the Toronto Raptors. Kemba Walker has really stepped up in a huge way over the past two games to help finish off the series. It’ll be important for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to be able to consistently compliment Walker. Tatum had a couple of rough stretches throughout the series in terms of scoring, and Toronto is a better team that will be able to capitalize off those cold periods. Defensively the Celtics were very locked in throughout, and the ability to not have to worry about Ben Simmons definitely gave them more flexibility in what they could do. The Raptors are somewhat of a contrast in that they rely more on their depth, which will be an area Brad Stevens focuses the defensive game plan on. Toronto will certainly be a much more challenging opponent, but Celtics fans should be confidant in the Celtics ability to come out on top.
Meanwhile in Toronto, the Boston Bruins picked up a crucial game 1 win versus the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning bring a much tougher play style compared to the Carolina Hurricanes, and their aggression was extremely evident throughout the 2nd period, where it felt like they were on a power play the entire time. The Bruins did a great job of absorbing these punches and snagged a huge goal early in the third that proved to be the decider. Two unfortunate deflections off of Charlie McAvoy prevented Jaroslav Halak from coming away with the clean sheet tonight, but he was otherwise outstanding. The Bruins dodged a bullet here in getting the win, because the Lightning really controlled the game for long stretches throughout. It’s gonna be important for the Bruins to apply pressure on the defense to get more zone time, and for the defense to be smarter in getting the puck out of their own zone. The defense has had issues with that for awhile now, but they did a great job of making Tampa Bay’s scoring chances more difficult by being very active with their sticks. This series is going to be intense, and could be the series that prevents the Bruins from advancing further in the playoffs. Despite the win, they will need to step up their performance in order to make it out of this round.
(Originally posted on August 23, 2020)