Well that was a roller coaster of emotion.
The Boston Celtics held a two-point lead with 0.5 seconds left in Game 3 against the Toronto Raptors after Kemba Walker found Daniel Theis under the basket for what–at the time–was anticipated to be the game-winner.
The Celtics were on their way to a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals series, right? But the game isn’t over until the final buzzer, which OG Anunoby beat.
Toronto’s seven-footer, wide open, heroically responded with a corner 3-pointer off an assist from Kyle Lowry, who took the ball out of bounds. Anunoby’s trey gave the Raptors a 104-103 win in Game 3.
It also means the Celtics’ series lead was cut to 2-1 with Game 4 scheduled for Saturday.
Lowry led all scorers with 31 points while Walker led the Celtics with 29 of his own, 21 of which came in the first half.
The Celtics shot 47 percent from the field while the Raptors shot a similar 46.6 percent.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Daniel Theis
It took Walker three quarters to find his groove in the Celtics’ Game 2 win, but that wasn’t the case Thursday.
The point guard scored 17 first-quarter points to lead the Celtics to a 33-28 lead after 12 minutes. Walker shot 5-for-6 from the field while he was also a perfect 5-for-5 at the charity stripe.
And while it was Walker who led the C’s in scoring (nobody else had more than four points), Brown filled up the stat sheet himself with four points, team-high five rebounds and two blocked shots.
Boston shot 50 percent from the field (11-for-22) while the Raptors got 11 points from Kyle Lowry and shot 42.3 percent (11-for-26) from the field.
BUILDING A LEAD
The Celtics built their biggest lead of the game (10) midway through the quarter and again right before the frame ended as Walker converted a 3-pointer in the final seconds to give Boston a 57-47 advantage at the break.
Brown recorded his first-ever double-double in the playoffs, needing just the first half alone. The guard scored 10 points and collected 10 rebounds while playing just shy of 19 minutes. He was an efficient 5-for-8 from the field.
Tatum struggled from the field in the first half (4-for-12) en route to 10 points while the C’s shot 48 percent from the field. Their defense, perhaps equally impressive, recorded six blocked shots as Toronto shot 38.3 percent (18-for-47) from the floor.
Boston also held a 29-21 edge on the glass and held Toronto star Pascal Siakam without a point in the first half.
Siakam got going in the third quarter, scoring 13 points in the 12-minute period to help the Raptors cut the Celtics lead to four points, 80-76 heading into the final quarter.
Toronto benefitted by hitting four lay ups in the first four minutes, ramping up the intensity coming out of the half.
On the other end, while Walker climbed up to 24 points for the C’s, Brown and Tatum didn’t do a whole lot of damage offensively, combining for just four points in the quarter.
AT THE BUZZER
Walker scored five of the Celtics’ first seven points in the fourth to give Boston a 87-85 lead.
Toronto responded with a 10-2 run to take a four-point lead, but the Celtics then answered with an 8-0 run of their own. It helped the C’s take a 101-97 lead on a dunk by Brown with 1:41 left.
Chaos then ensued in the final 20 seconds, as mentioned above, with the Celtics ultimately falling after the game-winning three.
PLAY OF THE GAME
The Celtics and Raptors will battle it out in Game 4 on Saturday, Aug. 6. Tip off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images