Celtics

Celtics

BOSTON -- The last time Boston and Toronto played, it ended with a Celtics win in overtime.

And the third installment in their head-to-head series didn’t disappoint as it, like the previous matchup, came down to the wire.

But Boston would not need overtime this time, fueled by a Kyrie Irving-led spurt to pull away for a 117-108 win.

Irving, showing more emotion in the closing seconds than we’ve seen from him at any point during his Celtics career, had a hand in scoring or assisting on Boston’s last 11 points that broke open a 106-all tie.

Both teams opened the first quarter getting pretty much whatever they wanted offensively, with the Raptors leading 36-30 after the first quarter with the difference being Toronto’s 6-for-6 shooting from the line while the Celtics had yet to take an attempt.

The second quarter saw Boston ratchet up its defense, paving the way for them to lead 64-53 in large part because the Raptors missed all nine of their 3-point attempts in the quarter while the Celtics drained four of their nine 3-point attempts.

Both teams waged a tightly contested battle in the closing minutes, with neither team showing signs of pulling away until the final couple minutes when Irving took over.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s victory over the Raptors on Wednesday.

STARS

Kyrie Irving: This was one of Kyrie Irving’s stronger performances this season, balancing his scoring acumen with ensuring his teammates stayed engaged. He would tally a double-double of 27 points and 18 assists.

Kawhi Leonard: The MVP candidate played like one most of the night for the Raptors, getting to the free throw line in addition to knocking down one big shot after another for Toronto. He would lead all scorers with 33 points.

STUDS

Serge Ibaka: The Raptors managed to get him the ball quite a bit in the second half, and Ibaka delivered with a strong game with a double-double of 22 points and 10 rebounds.

Gordon Hayward: Tremendous first half for Gordon Hayward as he came off the bench and scored 16 points on 7-for-8 shooting. He wasn’t nearly as efficient in the second half as he finished the night with 18 points.

Al Horford: He came up big when the Celtics absolutely needed it, tallying a season-high 24 points to go with seven rebounds.

Marcus Smart: The stat line rarely tells what kind of impact he makes on a game, and Wednesday’s matchup with the Raptors was no exception. His defense was disruptive and in typical Marcus Smart fashion he came up with timely baskets like the 3-pointer in the third quarter that slowed down Toronto’s 10-3 spurt at that time.

DUDS

Celtics turnovers: Boston turned it over 15 times for 18 points, but the timing of Boston’s miscues gave the Raptors life after Boston seemingly had the game in control.

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