Final: Celtics 115, Raptors 104. The Raptors give up with about a minute to play, letting the Celtics waltz away with the victory. It's a solid bounce-back win for a C's team that lost an ugly one last night in New York.
Rajon Rondo finishes with 21 points for the Celtics and Paul Pierce adds 20, and the C's put away a short-staffed Raptors team at the Air Canada Centre. It wasn't always pretty, but the C's got the job done.
Fourth quarter, 1:35, Celtics 111-99: Ballgame. Another huge 3 from Finley with a minute and a half to play, and the C's appear to have this game won.
If Finley has one game like this in the playoffs — really, just one — the Celtics will be thrilled with their decision to go out and sign him in March. Low risk, and just look at the high reward.
Finley has 12, which is exactly the size of the Celtics' lead with 1:35 left.
Fourth quarter, 3:11, Celtics 106-97: Wait a minute, who replaced old man Kevin Garnett with this explosive guy who knows how to drive to the basket and score?
I'm confused, but it's a good confusion to have. Layup from KG makes this a nine-point game again.
Fourth quarter, 5:01, Celtics 99-93: Not so fast, Celtics. The Raptors cap off an 8-1 run with a jumper from DeMar DeRozan, putting them back within striking distance.
Time to get Rasheed Wallace off the floor, throw your starters back out there for good, and keep this lead intact. The C's need this win for their confidence moving forward — they've got to finish.
Fourth quarter, 6:53, Celtics 98-85: This is exactly why the Celtics went out and acquired Michael Finley — to have a clutch shooter to come off the bench and hit big 3s.
Finley makes a pair of big ones here, pushing the Boston lead to 13. At this point, Doc Rivers can exhale. His C's are in good shape.
Fourth quarter, 9:01, Celtics 89-80: The Celtics take their largest lead of the game so far, going up nine on a 3-ball from the wing by Ray Allen.
This one hasn't been pretty from wire to wire, but all's well that ends well. It took them about 30 minutes of play to figure things out, but they now appear to be in good shape as they look to head back south of the border with a win.
End of third quarter, Celtics 82-76: Just horrendous luck for the Raptors, who have now lost their best player to injury in back-to-back games.
Last night, it was Bosh; tonight, it's Hedo Turkoglu. The diagnosis on the Raptors' sharp-shooting forward is a nasal contusion, the direct result of being inadvertently smacked in the face earlier tonight by Tony Allen. The Raps are working hard to hold onto that No. 8 playoff spot in the East, but they're now without their two best players for the time being. They'll have to work hard for this.
Third quarter, 3:00, Celtics 75-71: Remember when Rajon Rondo had only five points at the end of the first half? He's now got 16.
What can you say? Something must have just snapped. The rest of the Celtics' starting five is looking a little sluggish out there, but their point guard has single-handedly staked them to a third-quarter lead. The question now becomes … can the C's hold it once Rondo hits the bench?
Third quarter, 5:56, Celtics 66-62: Give the Raptors enough time, and they'll find a way to give this game away.
Clearly, the Raps have started to get sloppy. Turning the ball over, committing pointless fouls, failing to create good shots. The Celtics are starting to seize control of this game — and it certainly helps that Rajon Rondo has woken up and decided to become a factor offensively, scoring Boston's last six points.
Third quarter, 8:57, Celtics 58-56: A solid first few minutes of the second half for Kevin Garnett, on both ends of the floor. Good to see.
KG hits one of his trademark long 2's to put the Celtics up by a bucket, and on the other end, he's making hustle plays defensively to keep Sonny Weems from getting effort-free buckets.
The Celtics have the lead, but they'll have to work hard to keep it. Let's see how much they want this one, shall we?
Halftime, Raptors 54-52: Another night, another lackluster performance for the Celtics on the road. So far, at least.
Jose Calderon's 3-pointer with one second left in the half knocks the wind out of the Celtics, putting them in a two-point hole going into the break. We saw this last night in New York — the C's didn't get stops early, they didn't set the tone, and they never really established control. Against this Raptors team, the C's can surely do better.
Sonny Weems has 17 points to lead the way for the host Raptors. Paul Pierce has 17 for Boston.
Second quarter, 3:09, Celtics 47-46: It's funny. You watch Sonny Weems closely — the swagger, the mannerisms, the facial expressions — and he's acting like he does this every day.
Doesn't matter who's on the floor against him — Weems is scoring at will on this Celtics defense. He's knocking down jumpers, he's posting people up, he's getting fouled and taking it to the line. He's 6-of-7 from the field, he's made both of his free-throw attempts, and he's got a game-high 14 points.
His career high is 20. What are the odds he leaves that number in the dust midway through the third quarter?
Second quarter, 5:56, Celtics 39-38: The Celtics' second unit is having a little bit of trouble with that whole "defense" thing again, but Tony Allen has once again come to life off the bench, and the C's are back in front.
T.A. has become a bench chameleon for the Celtics lately — one night, he's a defensive stopper against the likes of LeBron James, the following night, he's an athletic scoring weapon off the bench. Either way, he's incredibly useful. The C's have a one-point lead thanks to solid work from T.A. and a nice backdoor drive from Paul Pierce.
Second quarter, 9:14, 32-32: The Celtics should know by now not to underestimate anyone. Whether it's Jeff Green, Chase Budinger, Danilo Gallinari — anyone can hit the big shot against them.
Well, what about Jarrett Jack? Jack, of all people, has gone off for seven consecutive points, and the Raptors are back in the game. He's scoring inside, he's knocking 'em down from outside, he's doing it all.
The Celtics have to work harder to shut him down.
End of first quarter, Celtics 30-25: Sure, Rajon Rondo brought his luggage for this quick two-game road trip. And he brought his passport. But did he bring his killer instinct?
Not to nitpick, as the Celtics do have a healthy five-point lead, but this looks like Rondo's second straight night as a non-factor offensively. Six points last night, on 3-of-7 shooting; tonight he's only taken three shots, not getting his first points until the 1:32 mark in the first quarter.
Without Bosh, these Raptors are going to be slower and weaker inside. Rondo should be going for the throat.
First quarter, 3:31, Celtics 24-16: If you don't know who Sonny Weems is, then I really can't blame you. But if you're curious…
Weems was the No. 39 overall pick in the NBA Draft two summers ago, and the Bulls shipped him quickly to Denver, where he emerged as something of an 11th man on the Nuggets' bench in January and February of 2009. He's since made the move to Toronto, and all of a sudden he's a key bench scorer and occasional starting shooting guard for a Raptors team that's on the verge of a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
A year ago, no one in Boston had ever heard of this guy; tonight, he's lighting the Celtics up for eight points on perfect 4-of-4 shooting.
Not that it matters — thanks to Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the C's have roared out to an eight-point lead, and Doc Rivers is starting to dip into his second unit. Looks like Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis will be the first two guys off the bench for Boston.
First quarter, 6:11, Celtics 15-14:The C's are making a conscious effort to get Paul Pierce going early. It's working.
The Celtics' captain knocks down a big 3-ball at the 7:31 mark to put his team out in front, and he's now got seven points in this game to lead all scorers. You can see him becoming a big focal point of this offense, with the Celtics moving the ball through Pierce on every possession — not just to get him open shots, but to get him charging the lane and drawing contact. He's already 4-for-4 from the free-throw line, which is a huge plus for the Celtics early.
First quarter, 9:10, 6-6: Being without Chris Bosh has its pros and cons for the Raptors.
The major con is that without Bosh, they play much smaller — Hedo Turkoglu and Reggie Evans don't provide the inside presence of guys who are 6-foot-10 and 6-foot-8 respectively. The C's will get tons of easy buckets inside.
The pro is that the Raps still have plenty of athletic guys that can score, and they're on display tonight. Evans, Jose Calderon and Sonny Weems have all gotten going early for Toronto. Don't rule this team out without Bosh.
8 a.m.: All those cliches about never overlooking a game, never underestimating an opponent — coaches use them for a reason. If ignored, they can come back to hurt you.
For instance, take a look at the Celtics this week. How do you explain the C's performance against the Cavaliers on Easter Sunday, running up a 22-point lead in the second half against the NBA's best team and holding on to win — when the game that follows is a 104-101 road loss to the hapless New York Knicks.
Wednesday night in Toronto, the C's will have a chance to right the ship. Just five games remain before the end of the regular season, and Doc's squad is still looking to establish a steady rhythm before the games that really count.