The Boston Celtics began the night trailing the Toronto Raptors by three games for Eastern Conference’s top record with each team having seven games to play. After a huge win by the shorthanded Celtics, they’ve now closed that deficit to just two games. And Boston still has another game left against the Raptors.
Despite being down so many key players, the Celtics continue to call on the next man up, along with a heavy dose of coaching, to not only remain in games, but to outright win them.
Like in win at the Utah Jazz the last time out, Brad Stevens went to a 2-3 zone late in the game and it completely flummoxed Toronto. The Celtics closed the game on a 20-7 run after switching to the zone.
Marcus Morris continued his strong play off the Boston bench, as he scored 25 points to lead the Celtics. Terry Rozier had another big game filling in for Kyrie Irving with 21 points and seven assists.
When Boston was scuffling midway through the third quarter, Jayson Tatum stepped up on offense, as he scored 14 of his 24 points in the period. Al Horford also had a strong night with 14 points, including several of them late as Boston pulled away.
Aron Baynes got the Celtics off to a good start with 12 points in the first quarter, including two three-pointers. Baynes had been just 1-of-19 from deep in his career prior to hitting the two triples.
After opening the game shooting 13-of-23 overall and 5-of-11 from behind the arc in the opening quarter, the Raptors finished the game hitting 24-of-57 and just 3-of-16 on three-pointers.
DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 32 points on 12-of-19 shooting. He also added seven rebounds and seven assists. Kyle Lowry scored 11 points, but hit only 4-of-13 overall and 2-of-10 on three-pointers.
The Celtics held the Raptors bench, which has been the NBA’s best this season, to 20 points on 8-of-25 from the floor. Morris scored 24 for Boston, but the Celtics got contributions from Greg Monroe, who had six points and seven rebounds, and Semi Ojeleye, who made several hustle plays throughout the night.
Boston has now won their last six games. The Celtics play next on Tuesday at the Milwaukee Bucks before another big matchup with the Raptors in Toronto on Wednesday. Both Boston and Toronto will be on the second night of back-to-back games, as the Raptors will play in Cleveland on Tuesday.