With their sixth straight win, the Boston Celtics have now officially locked themselves into the number two spot in the Eastern Conference with a 110-99 win over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night.
Coming into Saturday’s game the Raptors were 14-3 over their last 17 games, which includes an 11-game winning streak. And for the Celtics, they just completed a four-game West Coast sweep and are currently riding a five-game winning streak.
With the C’s win, they now only trail the Raptors by two games in the East, with six games remaining for both teams. And one of those games just so happens to be against each other and is slated for Wednesday night in Toronto.
Throughout the first three quarters both the Celtics and Raptors held a lead as large as five points. And throughout the entire battle of the East’s top two teams there were a whopping 15 ties and 20 lead changes.
Right from the tip, there was a feeling of playoff basketball throughout the TD Garden as the Raptors took a 33-31 lead over the Celtics heading into the second.
It might have taken 76 games, but Aron Baynes finally knocked down his first three-pointer of the 2017-2018 season just over halfway through the first quarter.
After a second quarter which was full of back-and-forth worth action, that resulted in 22 points for each team, the Raptors took a 55-53 lead into the half.
The Raptors took their largest lead of the night four minutes into the third after a Jonas Valanciunas free throw to bring it to a 65-59.
To start the fourth quarter, the Raptors held an 84-82 lead over the C’s until things were all tied up once again at 92-92 with 7:46 to play in the game.
In the midst of an 18-7 run, the Celtics took their largest lead of the night at 100-94 with just over four minutes to play in the game and they never looked back.
The Celtics were able to top off a 110-99 win over Toronto, after out-scoring the Raptors 28-15 in the fourth and finishing off an 18-7 run over the final seven and half minutes.
Things got little heated in the closing seconds though, when four technical fouls were dished out between the two teams.
Here’s how it went down: Marcus Morris dribbled into the front-court and was fouled with 10.9 seconds remaining. He then began jawing back and forth with Raptors players.
Morris was then hit with a pair of technicals and was ejected from the game. And C.J. Miles and Serge Ibaka of the Raptors each received one.
Morris led all Celtics scorers with 25 points (7-15 FG), nine rebounds and three assists through 35 minutes. It was Morris’ fourth straight game with at least 20 points, which is a new career high. And he knocked down an impressive 10-of-11 free throws.
In 11 games played in the month of March, Marcus Morris has averaged 18.9 points on 48.3% shooting (46.7% 3-PT)— Celtics Stats (@celtics_stats) April 1, 2018
Jayson Tatum finished the night with 24 points (9-16 FG), six rebounds and four assists. And Terry Rozier III dropped 21 points (8-17 FG) to go along with three rebounds and seven assists.
Baynes finished the night with 12 points (2-2 3PT), five rebounds and three assists.
Aron Baynes (12) had the most three-point attempts in the @NBA this year without a make.— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) April 1, 2018
He hit 2 in less than a minute in the first quarter.
Ben Simmons (0-11) is on deck.
DeMar DeRozan led all Raptors with 32 points (12-19 FG), seven rebounds and seven assists.
It was a down night for Kyle Lowry who finished 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting from the field.
In the Celtics’ 53rd win of year, they shot 45.5 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from three. And the Raptors finished the night shooting 46.3 percent from the field and an unimpressive 22.9 percent from three.
With the C’s win, they have now matched their win total from last season, as they now look to make a push up the standings over the final six games of the season.
Brad Stevens says it doesn’t matter who we play in the first round of the Playoffs, because if you want to win it all, you’ve got to beat great teams along the way at some time or another.— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 31, 2018
UP NEXT: The Celtics (53-23) head to the Badger State on Tuesday night to take on Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks (41-35) in the first of back-to-back road games. Catch the call of the game with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell, live on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Pre-game coverage begins at 7:30 p.m., with tip-off set for 8:00 p.m.
— By John ‘The Dude’ Hardiman, 985TheSportsHub.com
John Hardiman is a Digital Producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for John? Hit him up on Twitter @HardiDude or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.