BOSTON – For most of Saturday’s game, neither Boston or Toronto could pull away and take control of the game.
But when it mattered, the Celtics did what we’ve seen them do a lot lately – find a way to win.
The Celtics closed out the game with a 16-5 run to knock off the Toronto Raptors 110-99.
“We got stagnant, missed a couple shots, we started putting them on the line,” Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan told reporters after the loss. “They gained momentum and they took off.”
Boston (53-23) has now won six in a row, cutting Toronto’s lead in the East down to just two games.
If the Celtics win their next game at Milwaukee and the Raptors drop their next game at Cleveland, these two teams face each other on Wednesday with first place in the Eastern Conference at stake.
Boston has continued to find ways to win with a cut-and-paste lineup, with contributions coming from any and all Celtics who stepped on the floor.
“This is gonna be our group at the start of the playoffs,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
And while it may not be the group Boston was banking on, they’ve proven they are indeed up to the challenge.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 110-99 win over the Toronto Raptors.
Jayson Tatum: The rookie had yet another coming-of-age performance on Saturday, scoring 24 points for the Celtics – 18 of which came in the second half.
DeMar DeRozan: The four-time all-star did all he could to keep the Raptors afloat for most of the game. He led all scorers with 32 points, but Boston’s defense made him a non-factor in the fourth quarter by limiting him to just four points.
Marcus Morris: Once again it was Marcus Morris delivering in a big way at both ends of the floor. In addition to scoring a team-high 25 points, Morris also came up with a slew of defensive plays including a late-game block of fellow Philly native Kyle Lowry.
Terry Rozier: Scary Terry was doing what he does well of late, which is to stay on the attack offensively and be a solid defender. Rozier finished with 21 points and seven assists with just one turnover.
Aron Baynes: The shot-making by Aron Baynes early on was huge for the Celtics, finishing with a pair of 3-pointers, his first with the Celtics, as part of a 12-point, 5-rebound, 3-assist performance.
Jonas Valanciunas: He was a factor early on with his rebounding and physical play, finishing with a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Celtics zone defense: In the second half, Boston did a nice job of mixing it in with their man coverage which kept the Raptors off balance and was indeed a factor in Boston finishing with 19 points off of Toronto’s 15 turnovers.
Toronto bench: They came in ranked among the league’s top scoring units. But their impact was non-existent most of the game, totaling just 20 points on 7-for-25 shooting.
Toronto turnovers: Toronto finished with 15 turnovers which isn’t too shabby … that is until you realize that seven came in the fourth quarter and factored heavily in Boston’s dominant showing in the fourth.