Celtics vs. Raptors score, takeaways: Boston crushes Toronto with dominant defensive effort

USATSI

Oh, what a difference a day can make. We entered Friday with Toronto, undefeated in Orlando, looking like Milwaukee's most serious threat for the Eastern Conference championship by far. Boston, meanwhile, had played uneven in Florida, losing to the Heat without Jimmy Butler and blowing a big lead to the Bucks in their opener. But on Friday? We saw a shift. The Celtics ran the Raptors off of the floor, 122-100. 

The beatdown was thorough, but the worst of it came in a third quarter in which the Celtics outscored the Raptors 39-20. Jaylen Brown led the way with 20, but Jayson Tatum (18) and Kemba Walker (17) weren't far behind in what was a huge team win. The Celtics drained 16 3-pointers in the win. It's hard to lose when that many shots have fallen. 

Toronto, meanwhile, needs to grapple with some of the weaknesses Boston exposed. The Celtics and their No. 5 ranked defense took away the easy transition and motion-based points Toronto thrives on, and as a result, their halfcourt offense sputtered. Boston's wings can make tough shots. Tonight, at least, Pascal Siakam could not. The Raptors still have a bit of time to cook up alternative methods of half-court scoring, but for one night at least, the concerns about Toronto's lack of a superstar appear to be legitimate. Here are the biggest takeaways from tonight's win. 

Toronto's lack of individual shot-creation killed them

This wasn't a close game. There wasn't anything Toronto could've done to win it. But what was evident when the game was still remotely competitive was how much better Boston is at hitting hard shots than Toronto. The Celtics held the Raptors to only 14 first-quarter points and 37 total in the first half. A lot of that was bad shooting, but bad shots are the norm against top-five defenses. 

Where contenders tend to overcome great defense is through great individual shot-creation and free throws. The Raptors had the former with Kawhi Leonard, and the latter with DeMar DeRozan. But they have neither right now, and it showed as Pascal Siakam struggled in his role as offensive alpha against Boston's length on the wing. Toronto took only 17 free throws, and they are ranked 17th in that regard league-wide this season. Whistles are even harder to come by in the playoffs. So are open shots. If the Raptors can't find a way to generate easy points at the line and get the hard points in one-on-one settings, their playoff run isn't going to last nearly as long as last season's. 

Kemba Walker looks healthy

Though his minutes are still being monitored, an important development in this one was Kemba Walker's aggression. In his first three games, he never reached double-digits in field goal attempts. He took 14 shots in a blowout tonight. Walker is on the Celtics to score. That is his entire job. The compromised version we saw just before the shutdown and so far in Orlando hasn't done so at a rate high enough to justify a max contract. But tonight's performance was encouraging. His ability to break down defenses off of the dribble is only going to make life easier for the rest of the offense. 

The Time Lord has finally arrived

The Celtics are finally giving Robert Williams real run, and he's made the most of it. His career-high in scoring before Wednesday was 11 points. He topped that with 18 against the Nets, and nearly did so with 10 more points Friday. More importantly, he held up fairly well defensively. Nobody is asking Williams to match Daniel Theis on that end of the floor, but in 10-15 minutes of playing time, his athleticism is a breath of fresh air for a Celtics team that has largely relied on ground-bound big men this season. Having a lob finisher in the pick-and-roll is just another weapon for a Celtics team that had just about every other area covered offensively. 

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FRI 9:00 P
TOR -1.5, o221.5
TNT
TOR -1.5, O/U 221.5

Season Leaders

points
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J. Tatum 26.9 PTS, 3.8 AST, 7.1 REB
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J. Tatum 26.9 PTS, 3.8 AST, 7.1 REB
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F. VanVleet 19.4 PTS, 6.5 AST, 4.4 REB
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F. VanVleet 19.4 PTS, 6.5 AST, 4.4 REB
assists
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M. Smart 13.3 PTS, 5.5 AST, 2.8 REB
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M. Smart 13.3 PTS, 5.5 AST, 2.8 REB
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K. Lowry 18.2 PTS, 7.1 AST, 6.5 REB
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K. Lowry 18.2 PTS, 7.1 AST, 6.5 REB
rebounds
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T. Thompson 6.9 PTS, 0.8 AST, 8.5 REB
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T. Thompson 6.9 PTS, 0.8 AST, 8.5 REB
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P. Siakam 18.8 PTS, 4.7 AST, 7.7 REB
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P. Siakam 18.8 PTS, 4.7 AST, 7.7 REB
Live updates
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@celtics via Twitter
August 8, 2020, 3:57 AM
@celtics via Twitter
August 8, 2020, 3:44 AM
@celtics via Twitter
August 8, 2020, 3:39 AM
@celtics via Twitter
August 8, 2020, 3:38 AM
@celtics via Twitter
August 8, 2020, 3:32 AM
@celtics via Twitter
August 8, 2020, 3:26 AM

Stanley Johnson and-one. You don't see many of those anymore.

August 8, 2020, 3:19 AM

That's 16 3's for Boston. Toronto has six. This would be a six-point game if those numbers were even.

August 8, 2020, 3:17 AM

You know you're beaten when Semi Ojeleye is hitting his 3's?

August 8, 2020, 3:12 AM

The Raptors are trying out a full-court press. Down 37. Why give away that look for a potential playoff series?

August 8, 2020, 3:10 AM
@Raptors via Twitter
August 8, 2020, 3:09 AM

Serge Ibaka is headed to the locker room after getting smacked in the face.

August 8, 2020, 3:07 AM

Serge Ibaka is down on the ground. It looks like he got hit in the face. Gordon Hayward pushed off of it.

August 8, 2020, 3:04 AM

It hasn't remotely been the biggest story tonight, but Robert Williams holding his own defensively is going to make a difference for Boston in the playoffs. The Celtics don't really have a rim-runner, so adding a pick-and-roll finisher to their rotation that can survive defensively is a very nice addition.

August 8, 2020, 3:03 AM
@celtics via Twitter
August 8, 2020, 2:58 AM

Sure, another Boston 3. Why not?

August 8, 2020, 2:57 AM

This is a bloodbath. The Celtics can't miss. They're up 27.

August 8, 2020, 2:53 AM

This game is essentially the formula for Toronto to lose in the playoffs. They encounter a defense good enough to take away their team game, and without a singular creator, they struggle. Meanwhile, the other team can make tough shots, because that's all the Raptors give you.

August 8, 2020, 2:53 AM

There's All-Defense lock Marcus Smart with the steal. Boston is now up 24.

August 8, 2020, 2:51 AM
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