The Boston Celtics extended their winning streak to 12, with a 95-94 victory over the Toronto Raptors. Boston struggled to score the ball in the first half, shooting just 33.3 percent from the field, including an abysmal 30.8 percent mark from beyond the arc. The Celtics turned things around in the game’s third quarter and scraped together enough points in the fourth to maintain their lead.
Al Horford was magnificent in his return from a minor concussion, posting a line of 21 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assist, and 2 steals on 8-of-9 shooting. It was enough to cover the absence of Boston’s other sidelined star, Kyrie Irving, who sustained a facial fracture in the team’s game against Charlotte on Friday.
Precocious young wing Jaylen Brown chipped in 18 points of his own, and the Celtics relied on another solid defensive performance to close the door. Boston forced the Raptors—owners of the league’s fifth-most-efficient offense (per Cleaning the Glass)—into 17 total turnovers on the night.
Boston made several big stops in the game’s closing minute, including a final stand after an offensive foul was assessed to Jayson Tatum with just over 13 seconds remaining. With the game on the line, the Raptors opted to put the ball into the hands of their most productive scorer, DeMar DeRozan.
He was forced into a midrange miss by Brown, and the clock ran out as the ball bounced around after coming off the rim. It was a frantic end to a close, somewhat chaotic game, and nothing new for Boston.
The Celtics have made a name for themselves by scrapping their way to Ws despite an injury-ravaged start to the year. Their victory over the Raptors was another in a string of gritty, somewhat improbable wins.