The Celtics beat the Raptors, 120-106, behind the first pair of Celtics teammates to both convert six three-pointers in a game, not Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but Semi Ojeleye and Payton Pritchard. Boston broke into wing-heavy units with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown generating nine and 10 assists respectively, while Kemba Walker (21 points), Pritchard (20 points) and Ojeleye (24 points) on his career night downed Toronto with 20-of-38 shooting from three (52.6%).
WHO: Celtics (12-11) vs. Raptors (12-13)
WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: TD Garden.
RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub
TV: NBC Sports Boston
- Semi Ojeleye drilled an off-balance layup and a pair of threes from the right wing and left corner to score eight of Boston's first 15 points in a spot start for Tristan Thompson.
- Kemba Walker hit an early three off the dribble and a catch-and-shoot look from Jaylen Brown. He generated free throws on a drive into traffic, but his two turnovers thrown into traffic jumpstarted Toronto's transition attack.
- Pascal Siakam made a pair of shots, then Deandre Bembry and Norman Powell walked to the basket on the fast break as Boston committed four early turnovers that powered a 14-5 Toronto run.
- Jayson Tatum checked back in after a short rest with an 18-foot pull-up, and two drives-and-kicks to Payton Pritchard, who drilled both from three. Pritchard reached 9-of-18 from three to start his fourth games since his MCL sprain. He scored his career-high 23 points in the first game at Tampa. Tatum dished four first-quarter assists, including a post wraparound to Pritchard on the left wing.
- Pritchard hit his third three shortly into the second, then rotated into perfect help position underneath to draw a charge on Kyle Lowry after he generated three straight makes on the ball to get Toronto within 37-35.
- Tatum's second unit creation onslaught continued after an inconsistent west coast trip for the bench, finding Grant Williams for a jumper on his fifth assist.
- Tristan Thompson grabbed a third and fourth offensive rebound, converting a second put back against Toronto's vulnerable interior. Boston built an early 9-0 lead on second chance points.
- Ojeleye drained back-to-back threes from Brown's kick-outs. Pritchard and Ojeleye scored 25 of Boston's 54 points on 7-of-9 three-point shooting.
- Ojeleye and Pritchard nailed another pair of corner threes from Tatum's breakouts to get Boston to 12-of-20 from three before halftime.
- The Celtics got Walker two more open looks off the ball on drives by Tatum and Brown and he hit both, the second nixed by an offensive foul call on Brown. A third look for Kemba, driving off the catch in the same spot, got called for a travel and a fourth on a Pritchard kick out to the top of the arc resulted in a missed three.
- Of course, Ojeleye hit another corner three to reach a career-high 22 points. Of course, Pritchard followed in the opposite corner. Of course, Tatum and Brown assisted, respectively.
- Toronto stopped Boston on 10 straight possessions out of a timeout for over five minutes. The Celtics turned it over three times, crumpled at the rim and Ojeleye and Siakam shared misses through contact for 90 seconds during a hilariously sloppy two-way stretch that led to a Brad Stevens timeout. Grant Williams ended the drought with a wrong-footed floater.
- Chris Boucher reached five made threes for Toronto on the comeback push.
- The Raptors carried a stretch of seven straight makes into the fourth quarter, while Brown fell to 2-of-11 with a pair of misses in the lane. Lowry and Siakam are peppering the Raptors with dribble penetration against Boston's bottom-four rim protection (allowing 64%), but the Raptors remain cold at 30% from three.
- Daniel Theis and Brown ramped up the transition defense with blocks inside on Aron Baynes and Powell from behind that heralded back to Game 7 between these two teams and secured a 10-point lead when Brown hit Walker the other way for three that secured victory.
G: Kemba Walker
G: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Semi Ojeleye
C: Daniel Theis
G: Kyle Lowry
G: Fred VanVleet
F: Norman Powell
PF: Pascal Siakam
C: Aron Baynes
BETONLINE.AG LINES AND TRENDS
The Boston Celtics (12-11, 12-11 ATS) host the Toronto Raptors (12-13, 11-14 ATS) after spending 11 days on the road, finishing their west coast trip 2-3 after a loss to Utah.
Robert Williams (left hip soreness) joined the injury report late Thursday afternoon and is out tonight. Marcus Smart (calf) and Romeo Langford (wrist) remain out, without a timetable for return.
Jaylen Brown is nursing knee tendinitis that forced him to miss two games and bothered him in the second half against the Jazz, but is active. Daniel Theis, also managing knee pain, is too.
OG Anunoby is “50-50,” according to Nick Nurse, to return from a calf injury that shelved him for eight games.
According to the online sports book Betonline.ag, the Celtics are 3.5 point favorites, their largest line as a favorite since Jan. 27 against the Spurs.
- Celtics vs. Raptors spread: Celtics -3.5
- Celtics vs. Raptors over-under: 220.5 points
- Celtics vs. Raptors money line: Celtics -160, Raptors +140
A win tonight would firmly declare the Raptors are back by moving them into a tie for the fourth seed with Boston. Toronto started 2-8 into the COVID season, with Tampa announced as their home for the rest of it today. They’ve become acclimated there, winning five of their last six games, while still adjusting to an overhauled front court. Kevin O’Connor linked them to Andre Drummond this week.
The Celtics unloaded on the Raptors offensively on Jan. 4, torching the Raptors 38-14 in the second quarter after an early deficit. Jayson Tatum scored 40 points and Fred VanVleet reached 35 on a late 6-of-9 three-point burst that rallied Toronto into the fourth.
Pascal Siakam struggled early this year and in that loss to the Celtics. In his last seven games, he averaged 25.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, while shooting 50.8% and 40.9% from three. The Raptors and he rode three-point shooting into the NBA’s top 10 offenses, attempting 41 per game (3rd) and drilling 39.1% (fifth).
Center is a struggle, with the Raptors’ defensive rebounding ranking in the bottom four and Aron Baynes lineups getting outscored by 13 points per 100 possessions. He’s shooting 40%, largely surpassed by the slender shooter Chris Boucher. Siakam also plays steady center minutes.
Watch Jaylen Brown’s health, first and foremost. His knee tendinitis forced him to miss two games on the road trip, and he exploded for 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting before halftime, before finishing 5-of-10 in the second with 13 points as he dealt with more discomfort. Can he continue to stall Siakam?
His inconsistency stands tallest among Toronto’s issues in losing five of eight to Boston back to their playoff series. The Celtics have slipped slightly from allowing 17.7 fast break points last year to 18.3. The Raptors, averaging 23.4 PPG, fell from 27.8 PPG, but combined with their 16.8 turnovers forced per game (1st) can break out and run if Boston gives the ball away as they occasionally have.
Boston folded against the elite Jazz shooting personnel after a strong defensive first half. The C’s rank eighth in the NBA at stopping the three (36.1%) and 27th against shots at the basket (63.9%). The Raptors rank 23rd in finishing at the rim (57.7%).
If Anunoby doesn’t play, Toronto will be hard-pressed to stop Jayson Tatum and Brown in man-to-man. The Raptors also foul often. Kemba Walker (34% FG) has dragged down Boston’s offense in 10 games since his return. Grant Williams, effective on the road trip, could play some five minutes for the first time this year with Rob out.
Boston 117, Toronto 110 (11-7, 7-9 ATS)