BOSTON — For most of Friday night’s game, the Boston Celtics played the kind of game that on most nights would result in a victory.
But Toronto is one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference with talent, depth and an undeniable desire to win at all costs.
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One strong quarter by the Raptors was just enough to put away the Celtics, 101-94.
And it came in the third when Toronto outscored Boston 33-18 which turned out to be the only quarter the Raptors (16-7) outscored the Celtics.
“They got hot; made some tough shots,” said Boston’s Marcus Smart. “The tough shots kind of hurt us.”
The tough shots and a flawless 8-for-8 performance from the free throw line.
While it’s a 48-minute game, there was no getting around the fact that it was Toronto’s dominance in the third that ultimately determined the game’s outcome.
“If you look at it from our perspective it’s what went wrong; if you look at it from theirs, they ratcheted up the defense quite a bit (in the third quarter),” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “It was hard for us to break their … break their wall of defense.”
In the third quarter, Boston shot just 27.8 percent from the field, 30 percent (3-for-10) on 3’s and a woeful 5-for-10 from the free throw line.
“We started making everything difficult for them and not letting them get that easy in and try to take advantage of that,” said Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Friday night’s game.
The Celtics had no answer for the All-Star point guard who led all players with 34 points, 21 of which came in the second half.
Bradley was the lone Celtics starter who seemed to be in a good shooting flow, tallying 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting which included five made 3’s.
The Celtics made him work a lot harder than he usually does to score, but he still managed to tally 24 points – just four points below his season average – on 9-for-25 shooting.
He made a few more turnovers than usual, but Horford still put together a relatively balanced performance. He had 19 points and seven rebounds with six assists and a blocked shot.
The X-factor in Friday’s outcome had to be Powell. A 5.8 points per game scorer this season, Powell had 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting along with a game-high five steals.
With Isaiah Thomas (right groin) out, the Celtics really needed its core starters to step up and have a productive night offensively. Crowder just didn’t have it going on Friday, scoring just seven points on 2-for-11 shooting which included a number of 3s that rimmed in and out on him.