The outcome of this game was evident from the first quarter when this tweet was factually correct:
Rob Williams is leading the game in scoring.— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) September 1, 2020
The Boston Celtics took a 2-0 series lead (the franchise is 39-1 all-time when leading 2-0) over the Toronto Raptors with the 102-99 win behind the best game of Robert Williams III’s young career, a playoff career-high in points and assists for Jayson Tatum (34 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists), and MARCUS OSMOND SMART’S FOURTH-QUARTER HEROICS. Fred VanVleet (19 points, 7 assists) and OG Anunoby (20 points, 7 rebounds) led the way for Toronto.
Kemba Walker was off tonight, but on a night when the Celtics uncharacteristically turned the ball over an obscene amount of times for the second game in a row, other players stepped up to make the odds better. TimeLord (11 points, 100% from the field) checked in the first quarter and was a massive part of the effort to counter Toronto’s aggressive start to the game. He started out perfect from the floor and was all over the place (in a good way) on defense.
Time Lord is taking over in Orlando ⏰ pic.twitter.com/lDxBC8RLyc— Boston Celtics (@celtics) September 1, 2020
The Raptors came out hot, starting the game shooting 70% and with a much more disruptive defensive game plan. After a rough Game 1, Pascal Siakam was much more aggressive in the interior. He was what Toronto needed to make this game competitive, but he still can’t find his touch from the floor, finishing with 17 points on 6-for-16 shooting. Speaking of rough Game 1s, Fred VanVleet was predictably boosted by his family joining the Disney Bubble, and he responded with a much more complete and offensively aggressive game.
Kyle Lowry was pesky on defense per usual, but his offense hasn’t arrived to the series yet. He’s struggled from the floor, and (Raptors fans please look away) has spent a great deal of time whining. Marc Gasol came alive after getting played off the floor in Game 1, and Serge Ibaka played his second solid game in a row. The Raptors just weren’t better than the Celtics who, it can be easily argued, haven’t even played their best yet.
The game was tight before the half, but Toronto came out blazing defensively in the third quarter. Boston’s own defense failed them as turnovers compounded mistakes on the other end. Kemba’s offensive struggles didn’t help, but no one outside of Tatum (and his superb free-throw shooting) showed any signs of life in the third.
Where did the Celtics turn when things started to go Toronto’s way?
None other than the heart and soul of the team – Marcus Smart (19 points, 6 3-pointers). With the Celtics down 8 points early in the fourth, Tatum found Smart three straight times for 3-pointers for a massive momentum shift. Two possessions later? Another 3-pointer. How did he follow that up? ANOTHER 3-POINTER PLUS THE FOUL. Winning plays all over the place. I may or may not have started frothing out the mouth after the fourth shot.
Once Boston took the lead, despite Toronto’s best efforts (and an egregious technical foul foul call on Tatum), they were able to hang on after a dagger step back jumper from Kemba Walker (17 points) who was able to shake his disastrous start to help put away the defending champs down the stretch.
Massive win for a young Celtics team whose championship aspirations grow more and more realistic by the day.
The Celtics will take their 2-0 lead against the Raptors into Thursday night’s Game 3 on TNT at 6:30 PM EST.