Celtic fans must be feeling good right now.
Raptors fans … just another Game 1 which is still cursed after seemingly breaking it in the previous series.
Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics went up 1-0 in a much anticipated Game 1 of a series between the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds of the Eastern Conference. Boston dominated in every facet of the game, winning by 18 points with the final score being 112-94. Every player on Boston showed out as every starter plus Robert Williams Jr. finished with double-digit points.
The Raptors had a complete opposite night where they had a collective bad shooting night and could not figure out how to stop the Celtics’ offense for most of the game.
Here are 3 takeaways from Game 1 of this second round series:
Celtics Were Hot, Raptors Were Not
The Celtics shot 44% from three-point range while shooting 39/83 (47%) overall. The Raptors, on the other hand, shot an abysmal 37% from the field and an even worse 25% from outside the arc, hitting just 10 of 40 attempted shots from outside.
Boston was on fire in the first quarter, scoring 39 and leading by 13 with Jayson Tatum, their primary scorer, hitting only one field goal. Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart led the charge, making up for the absence of Gordon Hayward who was also an integral player in the Celtics’ system.
Kemba Walker impacted the game in another essential way by dishing out 10 assists and Daniel Theis had a great game himself, recording a 13-point, 15-rebound double-double. Even with his first quarter struggles, Tatum still finished with a respectable 21 points and 9 rebounds.
The whole team contributed and Brad Stevens’ plan to beat the Raptors worked with near perfection. Their largest lead in the game was 24.
Toronto, who has an abysmal track record in Game 1’s, didn’t show up at all. Every player was bricking shots left and right and honestly, it’s a surprise to how they did not end up losing by a larger margin.
Serge Ibaka was the best player on the floor for the team, putting up 15 points and 9 rebounds. Pascal Siakam had a terrible game, but he started to heat up just a bit in the fourth quarter when the game was already way out of reach.
Lowry kept the team in it as they cut down the lead to just 9 at one point in the game, but that was as close as they would get for the rest of the game. VanVleet struggled with his shot. Powell wasn’t able to provide a large scoring boost off the bench.
In short, the Raptors were ice cold throughout the game and had virtually no chance of clawing back with the way they had been performing.
Boston Contained The Raptors’ Strengths
Boston’s top-5 transition defense kept the Raptors in check the entire game. Toronto was averaging about 18 points per game in transition and were limited to just 7 points against Boston.
The Raptors mediocre half-court offense also didn’t stand a chance against the Celtics’ top-10 half-court defense either.
The Raptors other strength is 3-point shooting, but Boston beat them there too. Toronto only shot 25% and lost the battle by making 7 less 3-pointers than the red-hot Celtics.
Boston shredded the Raptors No. 2 defense while Nick Nurse wasn’t able to have his team adjust on the fly as he usually does.
Boston contained the Raptors’ strengths which made it impossible for them to make much of an impact on the game.
Toronto Can’t Fall Into Foul Trouble
Siakam committed three fouls early in the first quarter which is unacceptable considering that he’s usually the go-to scorer for the team. With that many fouls already on his name, Nurse was forced to take him out, leaving them without a primary option on the offensive end.
Lowry finished with 5 fouls, Powell with 5 fouls, Siakam with 4, and both centers, Gasol and Ibaka, with 3 each.
They must avoid foul trouble in Game 2 if they want to change the tide in the series. It is crucial for them to stay disciplined.
The Celtics took Game 1, but the series is far from over. There are more games to come and people should expect the rest of the games to be close unlike this one.
The Raptors learned a lesson in their first game and should come back strong in the second.
It’s not over yet.