(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
By: Patrick Whalen
The Celtics had another huge win Friday as the knocked off the Toronto Raptors in overtime by a score of 123-116. The big win over the top team in the east currently was number two in a row for the Celts at the Garden. The Celts moved to 9-6 after the win and the Raptors fell to 12-4.
If this game was a preview of the potential eastern conference finals people will not be disappointed. This game was like a heavyweight fight going back and forth trading blows. Even the stars went at it on Friday with Kyrie going off for 43 points and 11 assists and Kawhi Lenord going for 31 points and 15 rebounds. The rest of each teams starters also performed at a high level as 9 of the 10 starters scored in double digits with Jaylen Browns, 7 points, being the only one not to (Basketball-Reference.com).
The promising sight in this game was that the Celtics never dug themselves into a hole early on, the game was always within a few possessions. Another promising sign was that despite giving up 15 rebounds to Kawhi the Celtics actually won the team rebounding battle by 3 with 46 rebounds. The defensive effort was also great against a very good team as the Celts had 6 blocks and 9 steals lead by Gordon Hayward with 4 steals and Al Horford with 2 blocks (Basketball-Reference).
The offense, as you can tell by the score, was firing on all cylinders lead by Kyrie with 43 points on 18-26 shooting and Tatum with 21 points on 8-13 shooting. The Celts as a team shot great on Friday as they shot 53% from the floor but only 35% from 3 (Basketball-Reference.com). Kyrie’s aggressiveness of getting to the rim is exactly what this Celtics team needed to see, especially with them settling for long jumpers and 3’s lately. The Raptors just had no answer for Kyrie all night with moves like these.
Kyrie’s big night also featured a career milestone for him as he scored his 10,000th career point late in the fourth quarter.
Despite Kyrie’s big night the Celtics still trailed by 4 late but then Tatum slammed one home in transition and the Gordon Hayward hit two free throws to tie the game at 107 and force overtime.
In OT the Celts outscored Toronto 16-9 to take the win. This win was huge for this team as they now have won 2 in a row after that rough road stretch. Also with this win the Celtics have now beat the 3 teams everyone is saying could challenge them in the East this season as they’re now 3-1 vs the Bucks, Raptors, and Sixers. This kind of win was needed for the Celtics to challenge them to be able to fight for 48 minutes plus and grind out a win against a potential eastern conference finals opponent. This game is a great confidence boost for this team as we also saw Gordon Hayward play probably his best game of the year with 15 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals. If the Celts can get Hayward going consistently on offense watch out because this team will be DANGEROUS! Well see if the Celts can avenge one of those losses on the last road trip on Saturday as the Jazz will pay the Garden a visit.