The Celtics played in Tampa on Friday night for the first time this season to face the struggling Toronto Raptors. Jeff Teague and Marcus Smart were out for tonight’s game (as well as Romeo Langford, Kemba Walker, and Javonte Green who have been out for a while) and the Celtics were on the second night of a back to back. The odds were not in their favor. In fact, Toronto was a 4.5 point favorites tonight. In the first quarter, The Raptors started off blazing hot from 3 and they had a 32-23 lead after 1. After that, it was all Boston. Boston outscored them 38-14 in the second quarter and they led for the rest of the game. Near the end, the Raptors bench unit cut the lead to 10, but ultimately their comeback effort came up short as the Celtics won 126-114.
The player of the game was undoubtedly Jayson Tatum who finished with 40 points on 11-19 shooting (1 shy of tying his career high) and he had 38 of those points through the first 3 quarters. He also registered 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks. Payton Pritchard had a career game tonight with all 3 of Boston’s point guards out. He had a career high 23 points and he also got 8 assists. Robert Williams played phenomenal tonight. He had 12 rebounds IN THE 4TH QUARTER ALONE. Ultimately he ended up with 11 points and 15 rebounds as well as 2 blocks. After struggling for most of the season, Grant Williams had the best game of his career by far on both ends of the court. He had 14 points and 3 blocks. As for the Raptors, Fred VanVleet played out of his mind with 35 points on 13-20 shooting.
Even though the Celtics won handily, their is one concern that really stands out to me: Aaron Nesmith. Nesmith finally got some big minutes tonight and did not look all that impressive. He ended up with 0 points on 0-3 shooting and he also had 3 fouls in the 1st quarter. He kind of just seems lost out there. If you are a Celtics fan, you should not be freaking out because this is only the 8th game of his season and the 1st game in which he was a part of the rotation. In the end, I do believe he will end up being a good NBA player, but it may take him a while this season for him to start getting the schemes down and start getting in a rhythm.
The Celtics did win however and move to 5-3 on the season. Next game is Wednesday night against the Miami Heat in an Eastern Conference Finals rematch.