Ford Keys to the Game: Raptors 73, Celtics 96
Raptors 73, Celtics 96
When you have an inferior opponent on the ropes, you need to knock them out. The greatest heavyweights of all time would affirm that statement faster than you can say thecelticsarebackinthewincolumn.
Boston led Toronto by six points at the half, but the Raptors were visibly staggering. A combined 25 points from Rajon Rondo (15 points) and Kevin Garnett (10 points) helped the C’s jump ahead of Toronto by as many as 15 points in the opening half.
Although nine points were shaved off of that lead before halftime, there was an air of confidence flooding throughout TD Garden that hadn’t been felt in this building in a long, long time. The Celtics and their faithful knew they were going to win this game, and they made that perfectly clear when the second half began.
Instead of allowing a staggering Raptors team to regain its composure, Boston delivered a knockout punch.
It all began with a spurt of hot shooting by Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen. Interestingly enough, Rondo was the offensive threat tonight for Boston rather than Allen. He started the second half off with two driving layups that sandwiched a 3 by Allen. Those buckets put the Celtics ahead by 10 points less than three minutes into the third.
Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass and Mickael Pietrus combined to score Boston’s next 13 points off of an array of buckets, from deep 3-pointers to mid-range jumpers to free throws. After Bass’ eight-foot jumper with 4:46 left in the third, the Celtics had ballooned their lead up to 18, at 64-46.
With the offense clicking at one end, the defense was able to set up at the other. That wasn’t good news for Toronto.
Toronto struggles at the offensive end on a good night, but in this quarter things got even worse than usual. Boston’s defense limited the Raptors to just eight points in the first 9:28 of the second half. At that point, with less than three minutes remaining in the third, the Celtics led 68-46 and that championship punch had already been delivered.
Key Box Score Line
It’s not often that Rajon Rondo finishes a game with just two assists yet has his performance lauded by those who watched it. Tonight was one of those rare occasions.
Rondo was in attack mode from the opening tip and didn’t take it easy on Toronto’s point guards or defense as a whole. He took eight shots in the game and made seven of them to help himself to a game-high 21 points on the night. That stellar shooting performance was backed up by a solid night at the charity strip, where Rondo hit seven of his 11 free throw attempts (including one miss just seconds after he injured his shooting wrist.
The Celtics didn’t see their point guard return for the remainder of the game after that injury was suffered with 2:12 remaining in the third, but the work was already done. Rondo’s aggressiveness at the offensive end was exactly what the Celtics wanted out of him, and it helped spark Boston’s offense out of a rut.
“He was really aggressive offensively and that’s what we needed out of him,” Doc Rivers said after the game. “We had a little goal offensively, which we didn’t reach, but it was close… you could tell he was looking; he was trying to keep getting to that number we established.”
Box Score Nuggets
- Boston led by as many as 27 points in the game.
- Brandon Bass and Ed Davis tied for the game-high in rebounds with nine apiece.
- The Celtics scored 29 points in both the first and third quarters.
- Toronto's five starters combined to score just 37 points.
- Rajon Rondo, who led the game in scoring, scored 21 points all by himself.
- The Celtics outrebounded Toronto 45-38.
- Paul Pierce dished out a game-high seven assists.
- Rajon Rondo tallied only two assists.
- Boston's 32 free throw attempts were 12 more than Toronto's 20.
- Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Jermaine O'Neal combined to score just 22 points.
- Rondo attempted 11 free throws, while Toronto's entire starting five combined to attempt just 12.
- Gary Forbes led the Raptors in scoring with 18 points off the bench.
- Toronto shot just 37.7 percent from the field.
- Kevin Garnett scored 15 points on just seven field goal attempts.
- Mickael Pietrus shot 4-for-7 from 3-point range. All of his field goal attempts were from downtown.
- Avery Bradley scored eight points off the bench in just 12:17 of playing time.
- The Celtics committed just 10 turnovers in the game.
- Four Celtics scored in double-figures, compared to just two Raptors.
- None of Boston's starters logged more than 28:19 of playing time.
Quote of the Night
Doc Rivers on his initial reaction to Rajon Rondo's injury: "Honestly, I was laughing right afterwards. I wasn’t (concerned) at first because I thought he was trying to get the flagrant. I thought he was laying down, trying to, you know, (draw a flagrant call)."