As Boston controlled Game 1 from start to finish en route to a 112-94 win, it wasn’t without a couple of moments during which momentum could have swung in Toronto’s favor. The Celtics prevented this from happening every time, the most important instance of which came in the last 40 seconds of the first half.
Boston was up 22 points in the second quarter before the Raptors retired at 12 in the last minute. Toronto had possession of the ball less than 40 seconds from the end of the half with a chance to cut Boston’s lead to 10 or less. Instead, the Celtics have found a way to get away.
Jayson Tatum, who continued to provide the elite defense for Boston throughout the postseason, read Serge Ibaka’s eyes and caught a kick-out attempt by the big man with 33 seconds left in time. Tatum took the ball from coast to coast for an unchallenged transition slam that pushed the Cs up 14 with 30 seconds left on the clock.
Fred VanVleet went on to lose a driving layup on Toronto’s subsequent possession, which provided Boston with another possession just before time closed. The C’s took advantage of it, and emphatically.
As time rolled towards zero, Kemba Walker moved off the ball from the free throw line past the top of the 3-point arc, and the Raptors somehow lost track of him. Marcus Smart ended up hitting a fully open Walker with a pass about four feet behind the arch and Walker walked into a tree and emptied it as the buzzer sounded.
That 3-pointer, combined with Tatum’s theft and slam, was the hay maker who apparently put the Raptors away. Toronto went from having a chance to cut Boston’s single-digit lead with less than 40 seconds left in time to dropping 17, and has never been able to come close to less than 13 points since.
Kemba Walker recorded his first career post-season double during Game 1 by shedding 18 points to go along with up to 10 assists in the career playoffs Sunday afternoon. Those 10 assists also marked the maximum total of the game, which Boston won convincingly.
Walker was instrumental in Boston’s success during his exact 32 minutes of action. He made key shots throughout the game, highlighted by a triple knock that ended the first half and gave the Cs a 17-point lead. He shot 6 of 11 from the field overall, which included 4 of 7 from long range and 2 of 2 from the free throw line during combat.
The All-Star point guard also added three rebounds and a steal while on the pitch. Only Marcus Smart, who finished with a score plus 27 in the plus / minus category, finished with a plus / minus score better than what he did in the game.
Box Score Nuggets
- All five Boston starters scored at least 13 points, led by 21 by Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart.
- Rob Williams also scored in double figures, adding 10 points, five rebounds, two blocks, two assists and a substitute recovery.
- Boston was led by 24 points.
- The Celtics shot 17 of 39 (43.6%) from 3 points, while Toronto only shot 10 of 40 (25%) from over the arc.
- Both teams scored 38 points in the paint.
- No player on the Toronto roster has scored more than 17 points. Kyle Lowry led the team with 17.
- Boston made 22 sales, the highest since then.
- Toronto has never driven in the game.
- Daniel Theis filled the stats sheet with 15 rebounds, 13 points, two blocks, one assist and one steal.
- Every Celtic who played more than nine minutes had a positive / negative score, led by Smart’s plus-27.
- The Boston starters shot 16 for 17 from the free-throw line.
- Williams and Theis, who blocked two shots each, blocked as many shots individually as the entire Toronto team.
Quote of the night
I believe in every one of those guys in that locker room.
Jayson Tatum on his teammates