Some parting shots about Game 7 and the series as a whole as one of the most entertaining second-round series in NBA history comes to a close
1. Marcus Smart adapting to the Celtics' needs
There’s not a lot that needs to be said about Smart’s defense in this series. His game-saving block in the final minute will be on highlights reels for years, bringing back shades of LeBron James’ chasedown block on Andre Iguodala in Game 7 of the NBA Finals back in 2016. It also highlighted an adjustment he made after watching Norm Powell blow by him for a crucial fast-break layup in the second overtime of Game 6.
Game 6: Smart gets in front of Powell. And-1.
Game 7: Smart lets Powell go by. Block. pic.twitter.com/iQVILXdMjr
— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) September 12, 2020
The Celtics also managed to keep Smart locked onto Lowry more in this matchup, much more so than Game 6. He spent over six minutes on Lowry (5-of-15 FG) in an individual matchup, the highest for any Celtic on a Raptors in Game 7. Lowry attempted just one shot in those minutes, which put the onus on other Raptors to fill the offensive void. VanVleet was up to the task but the Raptors got little beyond him from the starting five and there wasn’t enough production coming off the bench to make up for it. Boston made someone else that Lowry beat them and no one else was able to step up to the plate.
Smart also ended the series with a team-best +11.3 net rating in a seven-game series largely thanks to his offense. He was not hitting from 3-point range (2-of-10) in Game 7 but his prowess beyond the arc in the series (39 percent) justified his high volume of attempt (8.7 attempts per game in series were most on the team). Toronto’s defense put a lot of pressure on Smart to produce in this series as a 3-point shooter and a distributor with their focus on Walker and Smart was up to the task. Boston’s offense was 20 points better per 100 possessions with him on the court and that’s a tribute to his growth on that end of the floor in the last few seasons.
2. Jaylen Brown > Pascal Siakam