It’s not often that you’ll see an NBA team knock out the defending champions during the first quarter of a matchup, but the Boston Celtics did just that Friday night against a Toronto Raptors team that had won 24 of its previous 28 games.
Daniel Theis opened up the game with an and-one layup and the Celtics never lost their lead from there.
Boston dominated the first quarter defensively, as it allowed Toronto to make just one field goal during the first six-plus minutes of action. Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and Theis, meanwhile, got the offense going, as they helped to establish an early 12-2 lead, which set the tone for what was to come.
The Celtics wound up holding Toronto to just 14 points during the opening frame, which eventually turned into a 52-37 lead at halftime. The 37 points allowed tied Boston’s best defensive half of the season, while also marking Toronto’s worst offensive half of the campaign.
Things didn’t get any easier for the Raptors in the third quarter as they fell behind even further, 91-57. Boston led by as many as 40 points before putting its reserve unit in and rolling to a 122-100 .
The key matchup heading into Friday night’s game was Jayson Tatum vs. Pascal Siakam. The All-Star wings entered the contest leading their respective teams in scoring with identical marks of 23.3 points per game, but there was nothing identical about their performances on this night aside from them both seeing exactly 27 minutes and 59 seconds of action.
Jayson Tatum dominated the matchup across the board from his scoring, to his passing, to his rebounding, to his defense. He outscored Siakam 18-11, out-rebounded him 7-2, out-assisted him 4-0, and doubled him up in the steals department, 2-1.
From a plus/minus standpoint, they were also polar opposites: Tatum posted a game-leading plus-34, while Siakam logged a game-low minus-26.
In dominating the most important individual matchup, the Celtics had an easier time dominating the overall matchup, as they followed Tatum's lead to victory lane.
Box Score Nuggets
- Four Celtics players reached at least 15 in the scoring department, led by Jaylen Brown's 20 points.
- The Raptors had zero players reach the 15-point mark.
- Toronto's 37-point first half was tied for its lowest-scoring half of the season.
- Daniel Theis posted the game's only double-double as he loggeed 11 points and 11 rebounds.
- Jayson Tatum recorded a game-high plus/minus rating of plus-34.
- The Celtics never trailed in this game and led by as many as 40 points.
- Brad Wanamaker tallied 15 points off the bench, which was more than any Raptors player scored.
- Both team snagged eight steals.
- The Raptors entered the game averaging a league-high 19.2 fast-break points per game. Boston held them to 13 such points.
- With the win, Boston is the only team in the league to have beaten the defending champs three times this season.
Quote of the Night
It's no secret: Smart is the heart and soul of this team.
Jayson Tatum when asked about the importance of Marcus Smart's communication.