It’s Labor Day in the United States, a day in which most Americans take it easy, enjoy a few hot dogs and for some of us, consume a few adult beverages.
That part about taking it easy?
Apparently the Boston Celtics did not get the memo because they put in some major work in working over the Toronto Raptors to the tune of a dominant 111-89 Game 5 win in their best-of-seven series in which they now lead three games to two.
And a Celtics win in Game 6 on Wednesday would catapult them to the Eastern Conference finals for the third time in the last four years.
Boston now has control of the series back in hand, and a key to reclaiming it was Jaylen Brown.
"We still have a lot of work that needs to be done," Brown said.
Brown had a late-game gaffe in Game 3 that proved costly, and was a horrendous shooter from the floor in Game 4 which was a major factor in Toronto coming into Game 5 with back-to-back wins.
But on Monday, it was Brown delivering one back-breaking play after another which included a powerful dunk in the first quarter over O.G. Anunoby that was just one of several memorable moments for the Celtics.
Like Game 1 and to a lesser extent Game 2, Toronto could never muster up any kind of consistently solid play at either end of the floor. And when they had good stretches of offense in Game 5, their defense couldn’t limit Boston. And when their defense was strong, their offense was not.
So now the Celtics find themselves on the verge of sending the current NBA champion Raptors home for the summer, going to work in a big way that proved to be too much for Toronto to compete with let alone outperform Boston.
Jaylen Brown: Talk about a bounceback in the Bubble. Brown was far and away the most dominant player in this game, leading all scorers with 27 points on 10-for-18 shooting to bring Boston within a game of a return trip to the Eastern Conference finals.
Kemba Walker: He vowed to be more aggressive than the Walker we saw in Game 4 who took just nine shots from the field. Walker didn’t disappoint, scoring 21 points on 8-for-15 shooting to go with seven assists, four rebounds and a blocked shot.
Celtics’ First Quarter Defense: Without question, this was the difference-maker in Boston taking control of the game and never allowing Toronto to be comfortable. Boston held Toronto to a franchise-low 11 points in the first, limiting them to just 20 percent shooting (4-for-20) from the field and just 11.1 percent (1-for-9) on 3’s in the first.
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Jayson Tatum: He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (5-for-18), but Tatum’s play was assertive at both ends of the floor as he finished with a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds along with dishing out four assists.
Fred VanVleet: One of the few Toronto players who had a decent stat line in Game 4, tallying 18 points on 6-for-14 shooting to go with five assists.
Daniel Theis: Once again Theis delivered one of those strong, below-the-radar performances that was important in Boston getting the decisively lopsided win. He was perfect from the field, making all five of his field goal attempts and finished with 15 points to go with eight rebounds.
Brad Wanamaker: As the Celtics were rolling along in the first half, Wanamaker came off the bench and continued to allow Boston to pour on the points along with doing a solid job defensively. He would finish with 15 points off the bench, leading all reserves in points scored in Game 5.
Kyle Lowry: He was the catalyst in Toronto’s Game 3 and 4 wins. So as he struggled to start Game 5 and never seemed to sustain any kind of significant impact, the Raptors had no shot at winning Game 5. Lowry finished the game with 10 points on 3-for-8 shooting while going 1-for-3 from 3-point range.
Marc Gasol: It would not be a surprise to anyone if one of the adjustments made by Toronto head coach Nick Nurse would involve moving Gasol out of the starting lineup. He has struggled mightily against Boston and Game 5 was no different with Gasol, who was scoreless while missing all four of his shot attempts.