Tatum, Smart lift Boston past Toronto, Celtics take 2-0 lead

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    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Marcus Smart didn’t like a call that went against him late in the third quarter, a moment that made it seem like the Toronto Raptors were taking control against the Boston Celtics.

    Smart changed the game with 16 points in a dazzling three-minute stretch early in the fourth, Jayson Tatum led everybody with 34 points and the Celtics have the reigning NBA champions in serious trouble. Boston topped Toronto 102-99 on Monday night, taking a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal matchup.

    Smart made five 3-pointers in a span of 3:04, turning the last of those into a four-point play as the Celtics erased what had been a 12-point deficit late in the third. Kemba Walker scored 11 of Boston’s final 16 points from there, the last of them a stepback jumper in the final minute, and the Celtics added to a season of mastery over Toronto.

    Not only do they lead the series 2-0, but they’re 3-0 against the Raptors in the NBA’s restart bubble and 5-1 against them this season.

     »One game at a time, » Tatum said.  »This series is far from over. You’ve got to win four. »

    OG Anunoby had 20 points for Toronto, which got 19 from Fred VanVleet – who missed a 28-footer as time expired. Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam scored 17 points apiece and Kyle Lowry added 16 for Toronto.

     »The shots are there, » Lowry said.  »We just have to make them. … All we’ve got to do is get one game. »

    The Raptors had the Celtics under control late in the third quarter, taking a 12-point lead – the momentum seeming like it had swung on an overturned call that, correctly, went Toronto’s way. A layup by VanVleet, followed by a free throw from Siakam after officials reversed a call that he said he fouled Smart, gave Toronto a 78-66 lead with 2:46 left in the third.

    The Raptors scored only nine points in the next 10:39, and missed 23 of their final 28 shots overall. But just when things looked like they had gone totally awry, Toronto scored five straight to make it a 95-92 game with 3:35 left, and the Raptors got within one on a pair of free throws by Lowry with 1:01 remaining.

    They didn’t score again. And just as they were last year against Milwaukee, the Raptors are in an 0-2 hole.

     »Well, I think we should know we shouldn’t give up, right? We know the next game’s super critical, » Raptors coach Nick Nurse said.  »But they’re all critical. They are. But we know this one’s super critical. »

    Celtics: Boston has won six straight playoff games, its first such streak since 2017. The franchise record is seven straight, set on the way to the 1986 NBA title. … Robert Williams was 5 for 5 in the first half, notable because he had never taken five shots in any first-half appearance of his career. He’s had two 5-for-5 halves in the bubble; his other was in the second half against Brooklyn on Aug. 5.

    Raptors: Siakam, who was disrupted in Game 1 by three early fouls, didn’t get his first until 7:56 remained in the third quarter. … After not leading at any moment in their first two meetings with Boston in the bubble, the Raptors needed only 47 seconds before getting out front in Game 2. … Lowry now has three or more steals in 10 games this season, including playoffs – the 10th straight year he’s had at least that many.

    There were a pair of unexpected shooting notes from the first half: Toronto didn’t take a free throw and Walker went 0 for 8 from the field. It was the first time Toronto never got to the line in the opening two quarters of any game since a playoff matchup with Cleveland on May 23, 2016. And Walker tied for the worst-shooting first half of his career; he also was 0 for 8 in the opening half for Charlotte in a loss to Golden State on Dec. 2, 2015.

    Smart became the second player in these playoffs with five 3-pointers in a fourth quarter. Denver’s Jamal Murray did it twice in the first six games of the Nuggets’ series against Utah.



    SOURCE: https://www.w24news.com

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