Keys to the Game: Celtics 113, Raptors 111

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Key Moment

This Celtics’ preseason hasn’t been for the faint of heart.

Boston’s first exhibition on Monday night went down to the wire when Romeo Langford hit a game-winning 3-pointer to put away the Orlando Magic, 98-97.

Exhibition No. 2 came down to the final possession as well, this time with Juancho Hernangomez putting in the winning points at TD Garden to push the C’s past the Toronto Raptors.

Boston was ahead by eight points with 1:23 left in the fourth quarter, but Toronto stormed back and tied the game at 111 on a David Johnson pull-up jumper with 19.3 seconds remaining.

However, Johnson made a critical error 12 seconds later when he inexplicably fouled Hernangomez on an inbounds pass while the Celtics were in the bonus. Hernangomez capitalized on the miscue, as he went to the line and sunk both free-throws, giving Boston a 113-111 lead with 7.4 seconds left.

Toronto made things interesting on the final possession as it had multiple opportunities to score.

Dalano Banton missed an open 3-pointer with 3.8 seconds left, which likely would’ve been the game winner. The Raptors got a second life, as Isaac Bonga was positioned perfectly for the put-back tip-in, but his attempt clanked off the rim as well. Banton was then able to grab another offensive board for the Raptors, hoping third time would be the charm. His close-range jumper went in, but not before the buzzer went off.

The officials reviewed the play just to make sure, and confirmed that the ball didn’t leave Banton’s fingertips in time. As a result, the Celtics secured their second thrilling preseason win in as many games.

Key Player

Al Horford made his first start for the Celtics in two-and-a-half years on Saturday night, and he made sure to give fans a show at TD Garden.

The 15-year vet tallied 16 points, three rebounds, and two assists in 24 minutes, while shooting 6-of-9 from the field, including a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point range.

Horford was asked about his long-range success after the game and he stated that he believes he’s a “much better shooter” than he was during his first stint in Boston from 2016-19.

“When I was here (a few years ago), shooting was something that was kind of new and 3-point shooting came in different ways than it comes now,” he elaborated. “I really made sure that I worked on shooting off the pass quickly. Not only off the pick and roll, but movement shooting a little bit if I have to. So I feel like I'm a much better shooter than I was when I was here (the first time).”

Aside from his improved shooting prowess, we also saw some vintage Al Horford on the court. There was one outstanding two-way sequence that he delivered where he blocked a 3-point attempt, then sprinted up-court while Jayson Tatum grabbed the rebound, and then caught Tatum’s outlet pass before soaring for a dunk.

Not bad for a 35-year old center.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Jayson Tatum led the Celtics in scoring with 20 points to go along with nine rebounds and seven assists.
  • Fred VanVleet edged Tatum for the game-high scoring mark with 22 points.
  • Al Horford tallied 16 points while shooting a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point range.
  • The Celtics dished out 29 assists on 38 made field goals.
  • Enes Kanter coralled 10 rebounds off the bench in 15 minutes of action.
  • Romeo Langford scored 13 points while starting in place of Jaylen Brown (Health and Safety Protocols).
  • Boston shot 19-of-40 (47.5 percent) from 3-point range.
  • Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard combined for 23 points off the bench.
  • The Celtics turned the ball over 10 more times than Toronto (23-13).
  • Rob Williams logged a game-best plus-22 rating despite not attempting a single field goal.

Quote of the Night

Grant Williams on Al Horford