Posted on April 5, 2018, by Travis Pulver
The Boston Celtics went into Wednesday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors with a unique opportunity in front of them. Win and they could still have a reasonable shot at overtaking the Raptors for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Lose, and while they’d still have a shot, it would be a slim one.
At first, it looked promising. They didn’t start the game as well as they probably hoped, but the Raptors played even worse. After an opening quarter that saw the lead change hands several times, the Celtics held a 20-14 lead.
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But Toronto managed to clean up its act in the second while the Celtics fell apart. Boston couldn’t hit a three-pointer (0-6) and committed nine turnovers leading to 17 points for the Raptors. With a 20-3 run, Toronto took a 43-33 lead into the break.
If Boston fans were hoping their team could hit “reset” during halftime and play a better game in the second half—they were left disappointed. Toronto controlled the quarter and extended the lead to 20-points at one point, 66-46. But a short run prior to the fourth cut the deficit down to 14-points, 67-53.
While the Celtics never backed down in the fourth, they also didn’t pose a real threat. Toronto led by double digits the rest of the way. When the game mercifully came to an end, Boston had fallen to the Raptors, 96-78.
Marcus Morris led the way for Boston off the bench with 21 points followed by Greg Monroe with 17 and Al Horford with 16 points.
DeMar DeRozan led the way for the Raptors with 16 points followed by Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet with 15. Kyle Lowry only chipped in 13 but also had five rebounds and five assists. His defense also played a key role in disrupting Boston’s offense.
Lowry had this to say after the game (TSN):
“It’s not redemption, it’s my job to come out here, be professional and be a leader. I didn’t make shots tonight again, but I had a better effort. We had a great team effort. We held a great team under 80 points.
“We didn’t score the way we needed to score, but we played defense the way we needed to.”
The Celtics, who are still without the services of Kyrie Irving, only made eight of 19 shots in the first. While that wasn’t good, they played even worse in the second and third quarters. Between the two quarters, they combined to make just ten of 37 shots.
Boston also finished the game with 17 turnovers; 14 came in the first half where they only made 13 baskets. Toronto turned those turnovers into 29 points.
With the win, Boston falls three games behind the Raptors for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference with four games left to play. So, theoretically, the Celtics could still overtake the Raptors. But they’ll need a whole lot of luck to make it happen.
Toronto faces Indiana (next), Orlando, Detroit, and Miami for their final four games. Boston will have Chicago (next), Atlanta, Washington, and Brooklyn. Boston would need Toronto to lose all four, but there is a good chance the Raptors don’t lose a single one.