After a tough Game 7 against the Toronto Raptors, the Boston Celtics advanced to the Eastern Conference finals. The C’s dethroned the reigning NBA champions, defeating them 92-87.
Apart from shortly slipping behind in the second period, Boston had the lead most of the time. Though, Brad Stevens boys were not safe in any part of the game, as Toronto kept coming after them.
The contest was pretty intense in the final minute. Norman Powell missed a driving layup to tie the result at 89-all, and on the very next possession, the Raptors experienced a massive setback once Kyle Lowry earned his sixth foul.
That sent Grant Williams to the free-throw line, with the Celtics’ player missing both of his shots. Still, Powell fouled Tatum while going for the rebound, who would later sink one attempt. Fred VanVleet’s three-point attempt was way out of the mark, and with that passing by the rim, Toronto’s hopes for defending the title disappeared.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were once again the leaders of their crew. Tatum played 44 minutes, scoring 29 points, grabbing 12 boards, and dishing an assist seven times. Brown had 21 points and was 9-for-10 for two, stealing the ball four times and adding 8 rebounds.
Marcus Smart’s defensive effort in the last period, and overall through the series was superb, with the 26-year old delivering clutch stops when needed the most. He contributed with several of those tonight, and with 16 points, 6 assists, and three steals. Kemba Walker had 14 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
With the Raptors, VanVleet had a team-high 20 points and 6 assists in 45 minutes. Lowry scored 16, shooting badly, 5-for-15, and having six boards. Pascal Siakam was again below the expected level, even though the former MOP delivered a double-double. His 13 points and 11 boards were just too low for a player of his rank. Serge Ibaka with 14 and Norman Powell with 11 were solid off the bench.
The Celtics will meet the Miami Heat in the East finals, something that just a few expected. The Heat eliminated the league-leading team following the regular part of the season, Milwaukee Bucks, in five games.
As for the Raptors, they will have their hands full this summer, with a much-needed reconstruction of the roster. Having in mind that several of their key players are veterans, Nick Nurse and the management would have to change many things.