(Boston, MA) The shorthanded Boston Celtics dismantle the Toronto Raptors and win 97-93 at TD Garden.
The Raptors fall back to .500 as they remain in the ninth spot in the Eastern Conference. They are 40-40 for the season, and are now 14-26 on the road. With an Atlanta Hawks win and Chicago Bulls loss, the Raptors look to finish as the ninth or tenth seed.
Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Payton Pritchard, and Al Horford were all ruled out for the Celtics. Gary Trent Jr. made his return for the Raptors.
Both teams started the game off slowly as Toronto and Boston were on the second night of a back-to-back. The Celtics broke open the game with multiple triples however the Raptors kept close as they got to the rim, led by OG Anunoby. The Celtics went on a 16-6 run late but the Raptors countered as the duo of Barnes and Anunoby cut the deficit and kept close to end the first quarter. The Celtics led 31-28 after 1.
The second quarter was abysmal for the Raptors. Toronto’s bench checked in alongside Gary Trent Jr. and they struggled mightily. Trent Jr. went 0/4 as the lineup lost their composure and the Celtics went on a big run. Malcolm Brogdon was highly effective and the Raptors had no answer for him. Pascal Siakam showed signs of life as he kept the Raptors in the game. Toronto shot 11 percent from three as Boston led 56-44 at halftime.
It was more of the same for the Raptors in the third quarter as they couldn’t buy a bucket. Fred VanVleet struggled from the field, while Jaylen Brown found his stride for Boston. Siakam was a one-man show in the third, earning another double-double of 24 points, and 10 rebounds with four minutes to go. The Raptors cut the deficit to single digits heading into the fourth. Coach Nick Nurse rolled with Precious Achiuwa over Jakob Poeltl, and he had a major impact as he scored at the rim down the stretch. Both teams fought to the end; however, Brogdon and the Celtics maintained their lead and prevailed 97-93.
The Raptors were led by Siakam once again as he finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists. Barnes was solid, dropping 18 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. Achiuwa continued his strong run off the bench and scored 16 points, and nine rebounds. Anunoby contributed on the defensive end, hustling for 12 points, four steals, and three blocks. VanVleet struggled, scoring only seven points, missing 11 of 12 from three-point range.
Although the Celtics were missing several players, their depth propelled them to the win. Brogdon came off the bench and was lights out, scoring 29 points, five rebounds, and three assists. Brown made his return and filled in well for Tatum, dropping 25 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists. White was efficient, finishing with 17 points, four rebounds, and two steals.
The Raptors’ last three games between the Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks are a good test for the squad, as Coach Nurse can see how well Toronto matches up against the East’s top teams.
The Celtics have had quite the journey as they started off slow last season, finished second in the Eastern Conference, made the 2022 NBA finals, and sit as the second seed again today. The roster is deep, as the Celtics have bench players that can easily start in Brogdon, and White. Boston has the talent to go all the way and possibly win another NBA championship. Even though the roster has dealt with multiple injuries this year, they have managed well while undermanned and can finish with 57 wins on the season, with wins in their final two games.
The Raptors look to avoid the season sweep when they take on the Celtics on Good Friday, April 7th at TD Garden.
Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics box score click HERE.
Pascal Siakam – 28 PTS 11 REB 4 AST
Scottie Barnes – 18 PTS 8 REB 5 AST
Precious Achiuwa – 16 PTS 9 REB 7/11 FG%
Malcolm Brogdon – 29 PTS 5 REB 3 AST
Jaylen Brown – 25 PTS 11 REB 5 AST
Derrick White – 17 PTS 4 REB 2 STL