Celtics edge the Toronto Raptors 95-94, extend win steak to 12
The Boston Celtics gritted out a one-point victory over the Toronto Raptors at TD Garden to extend their league-best win streak to 12 games. In their first full game without Kyrie Irving, many guys stepped up for the Celtics. Terry Rozier had 16 off the bench, Al Horford put up a super efficient 21 points on nine shots, and Jaylen Brown added 18 points and some stellar defense on Raptors star DeMar DeRozan.
It was anyone's game the whole way, but it was Boston who prevailed at the end of the night. In what was a hectic final minute, they heavily contested two potential game-winning shots from the Raptors and secured a crucial loose ball under the rim to capture the victory.
The Kyrie-less Celtics exchanged hoops with the Raptors through much of the opening 12 minutes. Led by Kyle Lowry's 11 points, Toronto was knocking down shots at a high rate. However, the Celtics took eight more shots by forcing turnovers on defense and keeping possessions alive on the offensive glass.
More specifically, Brown made life tough for DeRozan, forcing him to cough the ball up two times. Toronto had seven total turnovers in just the first quarter.
At the other end, Aron Baynes put in work on the O-Boards, giving the Celts three second-chances on offense. The whole team was extremely active on the glass, grabbing seven offensive rebounds and helping Boston make up for their sub-par shooting from the field.
Without Kyrie in action, Horford took it upon himself to create some offense, like he did here on a drive and ferocious finish at the rim:
The more experienced Toronto bench was able to put together a small lead to start the second quarter, but it was quickly erased courtesy of a well-balanced Celtics attack. Rozier led the team in first-half scoring off the bench with nine points, and the rookie Jayson Tatum did his part as well, adding seven points and bailing Boston out with a crafty move on the baseline on this possession:
Despite the Celtics struggling to find a groove on offense without their leading scorer, the defense once again kept them in the game. They came up with 11 first-half takeaways, leading to 12 of Boston's 44 points.
The Celtics are shooting 33.3 percent but down just two points. I feel like I tweet this every game.
Toronto went on an 8-0 run at the end of the half, but Rozier abruptly ended it by knocking down an and-one three-point shot with two seconds remaining to cut Boston's deficit in half entering the intermission:
Whatever Brad Stevens did or said in the locker room must've been good, because the Celtics looked like a whole new team on offense in the opening five minutes. They shot 6/8 and poured in 15 points in a little over four minutes to tie the game, 59-59. Marcus Smart had six of these points, knocking down a pair of treys and dishing out two nice assists.
Smart's impact was infectious for the rest of the Celtics, who continued their strong third-quarter play. Horford and Brown led a 10-2 C's run to help build an eight-point lead. Brown was the most reliable option all night, shooting 8-14 when he checked out at the end of the third quarter.
Boston's lead evaporated quickly when CJ Miles got hot from deep. Back-to-back Miles threes and a pair of DeRozan free-throws evened out the score yet again at 73. Rozier had the last say, though. The Celtics guard knocked down another last-second three, something that seems common for Tito these days, to give Boston a slim edge going into the final quarter of play:
End of Q3: Celtics 77, Raptors 76.
Brown has 18 points to lead Boston, followed by Horford with 17 points. Rozier hit a 3-pointer to end the 3rd and has 12 points off the bench.
Boston and Toronto see-sawed on the scoreboard through the majority of the fourth quarter. Nobody could build a lead, as there were four lead changes and no lead greater than three until there was a minute and a half remaining.
While there were many guys who stepped up, one of them was Daniel Theies, who hauled in four of his eight total rebounds in the final frame alone and added two key denials. Horford and Tatum came up clutch too, each hitting huge shots in the closing minutes.
With a five-point game and 90 ticks remaining, Toronto got a layup from Lowry and a pair of free-throws from OG Anunoby to make it a one-point contest. After a big stop, Tatum got called for an offensive foul on a wrap-through that gave the Raptors the ball back with a chance to win it. But, Boston managed to lock in on defense for one final possession, forcing a DeRozan miss and securing a hectic loose ball as time expired: