The Boston Celtics went 4-0 on their four game homestand to go from two games under .500 to two games over, as they took down the Toronto Raptors by a score of 132-125. As has been the case over this recent stretch of winning play, the Celtics got help from everyone, as 8 of their 10 players who saw action reached double digit points. Jayson Tatum took the lead in this one after struggling for much of the game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday, as he put up a double-double with 27 points and 12 rebounds.
As you can tell by the score, this was an offensive shootout for most of the contest, with the first half looking eerily similar to Tuesday’s contest against the Clippers. The Raptors scored 70 points and held a four point lead heading into the half, as they were shooting lights out from three. The Celtics looked like they expected to come out and run riot over the shorthanded Raptors, but instead allowed them way too many open looks, which Toronto happily took advantage of. While the offense has come on strong as of late, the defense remains a concern, one that the return of Marcus Smart will hopefully be able to address.
The game was won by the Celtics in the third quarter. Despite being outscored in every other quarter, the Celtics won the third by a score of 35-22, due to a combination of better defense and the Raptors cooling off from three. Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 20 points in the frame, and helped the Celtics turn a four point deficit into a double digit lead. The Raptors would hang around for the rest of the contest, but never made a run to take back control of the game.
This game felt like a display of what the Celtics offense can be at close to full capacity. While Brown and Kemba Walker didn’t play lights out by any means, they both hit some clutch shots, and managed to get to the free throw line consistently. Brown nearly got to the line more by himself than the Raptors did as a team, as he had 16 free throws while they had 17 as a team. It’s refreshing to see Brown and others attack the rim when their jumpers aren’t falling, rather than trying to solve it by taking more jumpers.
Along with the ability to get to the line, the ball was flying around the court tonight, as the C’s finished with 25 assists. Typically when the Celtics keep the ball moving on offense, they have more success. It’s a lot harder to guard two guys who could end up with the ball than one guy who’s running an isolation play, which the Celtics have a habit of calling too often. Adding back Smart too the fold should help in this department as well, but it’s important for the team to improve their playmaking to make their offensive attack less predictable.
We also got to see some more solid contributions from the bench tonight. They chipped in 51 points as a unit, a continuation of the great recent performances they’ve put up. After playing somewhat sparingly over the past couple of games, Grant Williams led the way with 17 point off the bench, including hitting 3 shots from behind the arc. Jeff Teague had another solid performance, as he dropped 14 points on 6/7 shooting. It’s nice to see Teague start finding his groove after an awful start to the season. Rob Williams and Payton Pritchard both chipped in 10 points apiece, as they continue to be the most consistent options for coach Brad Stevens off the bench.
With the All Star Break officially upon us, the Celtics won’t play again until next week’s matchup against the Brooklyn Nets. This game will provide the C’s with a huge challenge right of the gate, and it will be interesting to see if Boston can keep up their momentum after a week long break from action. For the time being however, Celtics fans can enjoy the All-Star break, and watch their two young stars take part in the festivities.
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