Celtics hold off Raptors to win second in-season tournament game 108-105
The 9-2 Boston Celtics headed to Toronto on Friday night to take on the struggling 5-6 Toronto Raptors for an in-season tournament matchup. Boston was back at full strength with Jaylen Brown and Kristaps Porzingis returning to the lineup. Even with a fully healthy starting five the Celtics got off to a slow start in this one going 1/7 to start the game. Toronto played well in the first quarter led by Gary Trent and Pascal Siakam they would take numerous 7-8 point leads throughout the quarter. The Celtics continued to struggle shooting in the first going 2/10 from the 3-point line with 3 minutes left in the first trailing 26-20, until Sam Hauser who’s been on fire lately off the bench would hit a pair of 3’s to cut into the lead making it 32-26 at the end of one.
Boston would come out in the second quarter firing going on a 10-2 run capped by an Al Horford 3-pointer to take a 36-34 lead with 9:04 left in the second. A troubling start for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in this one as they were 3/10 to this point but the team was playing well around them something they hadn’t been doing earlier in the season. Unfortunately for the Raptors though Tatum and Brown would start to come alive late in the quarter with Brown hitting multiple 3’s and Tatum making his impact felt on both ends capping a massive Celtics run that would see them take a double digit lead 58-46 with 1:52 left in the half. The Celtics offensive firepower would prove to be too much for Toronto outscoring the Raptors 39-17 in the quarter to head into halftime with a 65-49 lead.
Toronto would start the second half on a 9-0 run to cut the Boston lead to 7 less than two minutes into the second half. This was just the beginning for the Raptors as all the offense the Celtics had in the second quarter, Toronto was channeling in the third going on an offensive barrage tying the game 73-73 with 4:24 left in the third a 24-8 run. The Raptors would regain the lead off a Jaylen Brown turnover with 2:50 left in the quarter going up 77-76, but Brown would respond shortly after with a steal and a layup himself to give the Celtics an 81-79 lead with a minute left in the third. Boston tried to separate themselves in the final minute but ended the quarter with an 84-81 lead, needing a much better quarter to end the game if they wanted to win it.
Tatum’s struggles from deep would continue early in the 4th but the fountain of youth Horford was there just like he was on Wednesday night against the 76ers to pick up some slack, Horford hit back to back 3-pointers to give the Celtics a 92-88 lead with 8:16 left in the game. Both teams would trade shots throughout the quarter with lead changes happening in rapid succession, Siakam was a monster for the Raptors in the 4th giving the Celtics defense fits. Siakam would hit a tough bucket with 2:40 left in the game to give the Raptors a 101-99 lead and the Celtics were reeling after once holding a 16 point lead. Who would the Celtics go to in a tie game 103-103 with 30 seconds left? Who else but Derrick White who took over late against the 76ers on Wednesday was at it again hitting a massive 3 pointer to give the Celtics a 106-103 lead with :26 seconds to go. Toronto would get a good look with 12 seconds left to tie it but Scottie Barnes missed the 3 and Tatum corralled the rebound securing the Celtics 108-105 win.
This one was a little bit more of a roller coaster than the Celtics would have wanted, but it’s also a game they probably lose last year. So there are plenty of positives and negatives to take away from this one but my biggest takeaway is the difference in this years Celtics team compared to last years, the composure of the team down the stretch is noticeable and Derrick White continues to be Mr. Fourth Quarter.
- The in-season tournament is growing on me
- Joe Mazzula continues to impress early in the season
- Scottie Barnes struggled in this one but he’s a star in the making
- Derrick White and Jrue Holiday continue their reign as the best defensive backcourt in the league.