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Celtics beat Raptors in dominating 121-102 performance

“The game was not as close as the score indicates” –Mike Gorman

Toronto Raptors v Boston Celtics Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

Jayson Tatum scored 21 points and sat the entire second half, as the Boston Celtics picked up a convincing 121-102 win over the Toronto Raptors. Sam Hauser scored a career high 26 points on 9-of-15 shooting and Payton Pritchard finished with 19 points and 5 assists in his return to action. The Celtics scored 68 first-half points and led by as many as 36. They improve to 56-25, and with a win this Sunday, the team has the chance to collect its best record since the 2008-2009 season.

Toronto had one of its worst games of the season despite Boston playing without Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Malcolm Brogdon. They theoretically had a chance to earn the 8th seed, but had a horrible offensive showing, shooting 30 percent in the first half. Precious Achiuwa finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds while Pascal Siakam had 19 points and 4 steals. With the win, the Celtics go 4-0 in the season series.

This game also featured the debut of Tatum’s signature shoe:

Toronto Raptors v Boston Celtics Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

Despite turning the ball over eight times, the Celtics dominated the 1st quarter, holding the Raptors to 1-of-9 shooting to open the game and leading 19-4 by the 6:00 mark. Tatum scored 15, Hauser drained two threes, Derrick White had four assists, while Robert Williams had two blocks, one steal, and this dandy backdoor pass to a cutting Hauser:

The Celtics led 34-16 after one, shooting 60 percent while holding Toronto to 27 percent. The bench continued the domination into the 2nd quarter and Boston looked like the unstoppable offense that started the season 21-5. Payton Pritchard was swishing everything, Blake Griffin won every loose ball, and Mike Muscala hit his shots and even grabbed a few offensive boards. Timelord had this block and fastbreak layup to put the Celtics up 25:

Boston assisted on 11 of 12 second-quarter field goals. Tatum’s and-1 at the 3:34 mark gave them a 62-29 lead, then a Horford three put them up 36. Toronto finally made a dent in the deficit over the final two minutes, going on a 9-0 run, and the Celtics led 68-40 at half.

They shot 24-of-40 from the field and 9-of-25 from three. For those of you doing the math at home, you’ll notice they didn’t miss a two-point field goal in one complete half of NBA basketball. Tatum scored 21, Timelord and Horford each had three blocks, while Hauser and Pritchard each scored 11. The Celtics assisted on 20 of their 24 field goals, and the only box score blemish was their 12 turnovers. For Toronto, Jacob Poeltl (1-of-2) was the only guy to shoot over 40 percent from the field, and Fred VanVleet led them with 9 points and 6 assists.

Muscala started in place of Tatum to open the second half. VanVleet’s three at the 7:04 mark cut the Celtics lead to 18. Pascal Siakam scored 13 points in the first eight minutes on an equal helping of drives and mid range jumpers. Boston’s offense was stagnant, but it eventually rounded into form, and White’s elbow pull-up put them up 83-61 with 4:20 remaining. A Hauser three the next possession put them back up 25, and before the end of the 3rd quarter, he would get his first dunk of his career, which surprised the TD Garden crowd:

Can you say Slam Hauser? Coach Mazzulla didn’t make a sub until the 1:30 mark, and the Celtics led 95-73 going into the 4th quarter. The final period was a mere formality. Hauser would end up getting his second and third career dunks on back-to-back possessions, and the Celtic bench went crazy. Luke Kornet also had a loud dunk off a JD Davidson pass. The Raptors didn’t clear its bench until the very end, but they quit before the final quarter began. Boston would win 121-102.

The Celtics will play their final regular season game this Sunday at 1:00 against the Atlanta Hawks.

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