By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
After a heavyweight, double-overtime slugfest capped by strong finishes from the Raptors’ Norman Powell and Kyle Lowry in a 125-122 final, the Celtics and Raptors will officially need seven games.
Up four after the first quarter, and clinging to that four-point edge through the first half, the Celtics’ strong start was led by Jaylen Brown, who connected on eight of his 18 attempts for 21 points in 21 minutes in the opening two quarters.
But things changed on what was a six-point play from Toronto’s Fred VanVleet, and with Brown forced to the bench by way of his four fouls, the rockfight between the division rivals was officially on.
Trading misses on their final possessions of the fourth quarter, the C’s and Raps were off to their first overtime, where a pair of clutch Brown free throws and a Powell miss forced the teams to a second overtime.
The Raps really took this game over in the final minute of the double-overtime, too, as they doubled the Celtics up in points, 10-5. And it was those aforementioned Powell and Lowry makes that proved to make the difference despite a Jayson Tatum three to bring the Celtics within one point with just 6.2 seconds remaining in the frame.
But the Celtics had one final chance, and nearly made it count, with a Tatum full-court pass to Marcus Smart, and with Smart’s double-teamed heave having as good a chance as you could’ve hoped for given the situation.
The shot would not go, however, and the Celtics are now set for their first Game 7 since the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals.
The loss wasted a tremendous effort from the Green’s No. 7, too, with Brown’s team-high 31 points and 16 rebounds (a playoff career-high) going to waste. That line did, however, make Brown the first Celtic to record at least 30 points and 15 rebounds in a playoff game since Robert Parish accomplished the feat in 1987.
Lowry led the way for Toronto, with 33 points on 12-for-20 shooting, including a 6-for-10 mark from three-point land.
After the loss, a curt Brad Stevens didn’t feel like dwelling on what could’ve or should’ve been for his squad.
“You move on, and you control what you can control,” Stevens said after the loss, their third in their last four playoff tilts. “Right now, throw some ice on your legs and get ready for [Game 7].”
The C’s and Raptors will have a 9 p.m. tipoff for Game 7 on Friday.