The Boston Celtics (19-17) defeated the Toronto Raptors (17-19) by a final score of 132-125 on Thursday night at the TD Garden. This was the fourth consecutive win for the Celtics, bringing them two games over .500 going into the All-Star break.
Here are 3=4 takeaways from the Celtics Victory:
1. This game was all about the three-ball
The entire theme of this game centered around the three-point arc. The Raptors shot a staggering 21-for-50 from deep, while Boston shot a respectable 13-for-29 from the three-point line. One would assume based on those numbers Toronto would have shot Boston out of the arena.
However, the Celtics made up the difference at the free-throw line. The Raptors shot 14-for-17 from the line, while Boston shot 29-for-40. Jaylen Brown led the way, shooting 11-for-16 at the charity stripe. The combination of three-point shooting and free-throw shooting from both teams made this one of the highest-scoring games of the season.
2. Tatum looking more like himself
Jayson Tatum led the way for the Celtics, finishing the game as the team-high scorer with 27 points (9-15 FG, 3-6 3PT, 6-10 FT). Tatum grabbed 12 rebounds in the game, making it his sixth double-double of the season. Tatum also added 5 assists and 2 steals to his stat line, making it an overall well-rounded game for the young Celtic star. It was an important game for Tatum to regain some of his rhythm considering his shooting struggles over the last week or so.
Over the last five games, Tatum has struggled to shoot the ball from the field and beyond the arc. Against the Raptors, Tatum’s efficiency returned as he shot 60% from the field and 50% from three.
It was an important game for Tatum to regain his rhythm, as the Raptors are a team the Celtics will be competing against for a higher playoff seeding spot. It’s huge that the Celtics went into the All-Star break with some momentum, instead of going into the break as a .500 team.
3. Great play from the Celtics bench
While Tatum led the team in scoring, it was the play from the Celtics bench that really gave them the advantage in the game. In total, Boston had 8 players finish in double-digit scoring, four of which came off the bench, including Robert Williams III, Payton Pritchard, Jeff Teague and Grant Williams.
The Celtics bench depth has been an area of concern all year long, but tonight it wasn’t an issue. Pritchard and Teague pitched in 10 and 14 points, respectively, while Robert Williams III continued his strong play as of late with 10 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks.
However, out of all the bench players, it was Grant Williams that was the true shining star. Over the last couple of weeks, it appeared as if Grant Williams had lost his spot in the rotation, but with games like the one he had last night, he is showing why that might have been a mistake. Williams posted 17 points with incredible efficiency, shooting 7-for-9 from the field and 3-for-4 from beyond the arc.
Even though Tatum, Brown and Walker all had strong games, Boston would not have come out on top if it weren’t for the bench. When the bench plays that well, the Celtics become a very difficult team to beat.
4. The Celtics need Marcus Smart back
It’s known at this point that the Celtics need Marcus Smart back, but it would only make sense to put him on this list considering the Raptors were 21-39 from beyond the arch last night, and got 63 of the 125 points from the three ball. Smart is ‘getting closer’ to a return, and may return after the break, but the Celtics need him back.
The Celtics return to action after the All-Star break on Thursday, March 11, when they will face off against the Brooklyn Nets.
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