(Boston, MA) The Boston Celtics clinched the Atlantic Division, and earned the second seed in the Eastern Conference as they swept the season series against the Toronto Raptors and won 121-102 at TD Garden.
The Raptors have lost two games in a row, falling to 40-41 on the season and they finished 2-3 on their five-game road trip. Their final regular season game is Sunday afternoon as they host the East’s top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. Game time 1pm est.
Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Payton Pritchard made their return for Friday night’s matchup as Jaylen Brown, Malcolm Brogdon, and Marcus Smart were ruled out.
The Celtics completely dominated the first quarter and outscored the Raptors 34-16. Toronto had no answer for Sam Hauser as he scored multiple three pointers in transition.
The same narrative continued in the second quarter as contributions from Derrick White, Pritchard and MVP candidate Tatum extended the Celtics lead. Pascal Siakam went on a run of his own, but the Celtics kept trading bucket-for-bucket with the Raptors. Toronto ran out of gas in the frame as they were down by 28 points heading into halftime.
The Raptors attempted to flip the script in the third quarter, bursting out with energy and getting stops. Hustle plays from Siakam, Precious Achiuwa and Gary Trent Jr. helped the squad cut the deficit slightly down. It wasn’t enough though as the Celtics bench were simply on fire; Pritchard continued to lead the charge, and Hauser was launching from the perimeter with confidence. Boston built back a large lead as the Raptors couldn’t keep up in the contest.
The Raptors and Celtics both pulled their starters out of the game as their benches finished the game. Dalano Banton checked in and provided a small spark, scoring 10 points. With the loss, the Raptors fell to under .500 once again.
It was a frustrating night for the Raps, as only four players scored in double digits. Siakam led once again with 19 points, three rebounds, two assists, and four steals. Achiuwa has been a bright spot for the bench, scoring 16 points, and seven rebounds in this matchup. Fred VanVleet continued his inconsistent play; however, finished with 12 points, and eight assists on 3/11 shooting. OG Anunoby and Scottie Barnes combined to shoot 6/20 from the field and never reached double digits. The first quarter for the Raptors ultimately summed up the entire game.
The Celtics controlled things from start to finish and maintained their dominant flow throughout each quarter. As mentioned, Hauser was unstoppable in this matchup, knocking down six triples on his way to a game-high of 26 points. Pritchard had his way with Toronto as he finished with 22 points, four rebounds, and five assists off the bench. Tatum only played 20 minutes but scored 21 points, three rebounds, and four assists. White, Horford, and Mike Muscala each reached double digits as the Celtics depth was too much for the Raptors to handle.
After Friday’s games, it’s now official, as the Raptors will host the Chicago Bulls in the first elimination game of the play-in tournament. Game time is 7pm at the Scotiabank Arena.
Although the Celtics have secured the second seed and have home court advantage, the organization shared some concerning news on Friday afternoon. According to the Athletics’ Jared Weiss, Brown cut his right hand at home while picking up glass, he also received five stitches. The severity of the injury is unknown; however, the team is confident they he will be ready for game one in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
The Raptors head back to Scotiabank Arena to take on the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday April 9, for their last game of the 2022/2023 NBA season.
Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics box score click HERE.
Pascal Siakam – 19 PTS 3 REB 4 STL
Precious Achiuwa – 16 PTS 7 REB 6/10 FG%
Fred VanVleet – 12 PTS 8 REB 2 STL
Sam Hauser – 26 PTS 5 REB 6 3PT
Payton Pritchard – 22 PTS 4 REB 5 AST
Jayson Tatum – 21 PTS 3 REB 4 AST