*Editor's Note: The Boston Celtics routed the Toronto Raptors 111-89 in Monday's Game 5 to take 3-2 lead in the teams' second-round series. NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin shares her observations from a huge night for the C's.
Prior to Game 5, there was some chatter about inserting the high-flying high-flying Robert Williams into the Celtics' starting lineup to take advantage of his mismatch over the heavy-footed Marc Gasol. Head Coach Brad Stevens shut that down quickly in his pre-game remarks, telling reporters the biggest thing is to guard better at the start.
That was clearly Stevens' message to his team as well, and they heard it. Boston held Toronto to a measly 11 points in the first quarter, the fewest points scored by a team in any quarter of the 2020 NBA Playoffs. The Raptors hit just four shots a single 3-pointer and turned the ball over six times.
The Celtics couldn't have done it without STARTING center Daniel Theis. He only recorded one block, but as Kendrick Perkins said on Celtics Halftime Live, "He's not hoping they miss. He's making 'em miss."
In a stellar sequence midway through the first quarter, Theis got switched onto super savvy guard Kyle Lowry and forced the All-Star into a shot clock violation, somehow avoiding three blatant attempts by Lowry to draw a foul. That play was the highlight, but team defense is a five man proposition and Theis was the Celtics' anchor Monday night.
By the way, The War on Theis is real. I've been ringing this bell all season long and now I've got numbers to back it up. Theis has been called for 27 personal fouls in the post season, tied for seventh-most in the league. Rockets center PJ Tucker leads the way with 37 whistles, but Tucker has played 115 more minutes.
Add the fact that Theis got slapped with a flagrant foul for inadvertently hitting Lowry with an elbow as he was backing up in Game 3, while Paskal Siakam’s roundhouse kick to Theis' throat was ruled a common foul in the first half Monday night.
I mean, c’mon man! Theis hardly ever gets the benefit of the doubt.
Brad Wanamaker. Big Impact.
The Celtics reserve guard scored a playoff career-high 15 points in Game 5, hitting 3-of-5 shots from long range and tying his career-high in minutes with 28. Stevens said after the game, "It was hard to take him out... He made a big impact."
Playing in the last year of his contract, Wanamaker admitted during the hiatus this is an important post season for him. Wanamaker also told me during the seeding games that the bubble life hasn’t been easy.
His family’s home is just 10 minutes away from the NBA campus. That’s made it harder than any of his seasons playing in Europe, being so close but so cut off from his wife and two children. They‘ve discussed trying to do a drive-by to actually see each other in person, even at a distance, but fear it would be too emotional for everyone.
Jayson Tatum's Tribute
Jayson Tatum put a lot of thought into his shoe choice for Game 5. Wearing the Jordans he helped design, inspired by the St. Louis Cardinals, Jayson wrote "R.I.P. Lou Brock" on his shoes to honor the Hall of Famer who passed away Sunday.
I asked the St. Louis native what Brock meant to him. Jayson told me: "One of the best players in MLB. I'm 22, so I never got to see him play, but I know what he means to that organization. I just wanted to shed some light on that to all the people back home."
Gordon Hayward Is Back in the Bubble
Stevens confirmed Hayward arrived in Orlando Sunday night, but the versatile wing is in quarantine for a yet-to-be-determined amount of time. That's up to the league and their team of doctors, Stevens says.
Protocol is that a player who leaves the bubble for an excused absence and tests negative for COVID-19 daily while he's gone must quarantine for four days. Stevens would only say, "I know he's back. I haven't seen him because he's been in a room."
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Hayward can't leave that room even to receive treatment on the Grade 3 ankle sprain he suffered in the Celtics previous series against the Philadelphia 76ers. Regardless of how long Hayward is in quarantine, Stevens has said he isn't likely to play any time soon.
And, Hayward will leave the bubble again at some point in the coming weeks for the birth of his baby boy due in late September.
Nick Nurse has Zero Chill
Some of the best memes to come out of this series so far are of Raptors Head Coach Nick Nurse in utter disbelief about foul calls against his team and arguing foul calls with the refs. The man is relentless.
Nurse voiced his frustration publicly after Game 2, telling reporters, "The only frustrating part about it is this: [Jayson Tatum] shoots 14 free throws, which is as much as our whole team shoots."
His effort seemed to have paid off in Games 3 and 4, when Tatum combined for just 11 trips to the line. Official Eric Lewis had seen enough Monday night, though, calling a technical foul on Nurse in the fourth quarter of Game 5 when his team was down by 20.
NBC Sports Boston Boxing
How long could Kyle Draper last in the ring with NBA champion Kendrick Perkins? That's a real question Kyle is willing to find the answer to, for a good cause.
Draper declared he's willing to go 10 rounds with Big Perk for $10,000 on Post Game Live Monday night. Scal and I say there is absolutely NO WAY he'd last even one round. It's all we talked about behind the scenes after Game 5.
What do you think?!? Should we make this happen?