The Celtics were a bit shorthanded Monday night, but that didn’t seem to hinder them against the Toronto Raptors.
Despite not having Marcus Smart or Jeff Teague available at point guard due to injury, Boston made do with youngsters Tremont Waters and Payton Pritchard and defeated the Raptors 126-114.
Jayson Tatum (40 points) and Jaylen Brown (19 points) led the charge while Robert Williams (11 points, 15 rebounds) and Pritchard (23 points, eight assists) each had impactful performances off the bench.
The C’s improved to 5-3 while the Raptors fell to 1-5.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Tremont Waters
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Tristan Thompson
C: Daniel Theis
ANOTHER SLUGGISH START
Well, this certainly wasn’t how the C’s wanted to start another game.
Brown kicked things off with a sweet jumper, but the Raptors capitalized on a sloppy Celtics defense with a 17-5 run. Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet had six points apiece while Kyle Lowry tacked on another five.
The Raptors’ lead hovered around 12 points for much of the first. VanVleet led all scorers with an impressive 14 first-quarter points on top of three boards, two assists and two steals.
Head coach Brad Stevens brought in Pritchard, Semi Ojeleye and Aaron Nesmith early, and it paid off. The trio combined for eight points, two rebounds and an assist, though Nesmith (who was guarding Lowry) collected three fouls and Pritchard committed two turnovers.
Boston managed to make it a nine-point game entering the second quarter.
BOSTON BATTLES BACK
Boston found some momentum early in the second, tying things at 36-all on the back of a 14-4 run.
Pritchard continued to show off his solid offensive skills, while Grant Williams impressed on both ends.
The C’s finally began to find their rythym and regained the lead midway through the quarter on a Tatum free throw.
But Boston didn’t stop there, extending their advantage to 11 points with just 2:45 left in the half on more stellar stuff from Tatum and Pritchard.
Tatum led all first-half scorers with 26 points while Pritchard chipped in 11.
After all that, Boston took a 15-point lead into the second half. The C’s closed out the first half on a 25-6 run.
C’S STAY IN CONTROL
Toronto found their own momentum in the third, but Boston didn’t let off the pedal.
Despite trading buckets with the Raptors early and often after halftime, the C’s maintained their double-figure lead throughout the quarter. Tatum’s dominance continued, putting up 12 points in the quarter to boost his total to 38.
Pritchard remained one of Boston’s most consistent players in the third, tacking on five points, a rebound and two assists. Brown helped give the C’s a boost, too, with 10 points in the quarter.
Williams, meanwhile, continued to provide meaningful minutes on both ends of the floor. He had 11 points and five boards through three.
Boston’s frontcourt dominance allowed the team to open up a 23-point lead late in the frame. VanVleet stayed hot with a team-high 31 points, but the rest of the Raptors struggled to keep up.
The C’s entered the fourth up 100-81.
A STRONG FINISH
Not much changed in the fourth, allowing Boston to glide to victory.
Try as they might, the Raptors simply couldn’t close the gap. The Celtics maintained a 20-point lead for much of the quarter.
Rob Williams looked solid throughout but found an extra push in his final few minutes on the floor.
Toronto didn’t let up, though, making it a 10-point game with 2:36 left to play. So, Stevens put Tatum and Brown back in the game to help seal the deal.
But it was Pritchard that crushed the Raptors’ hopes and finished the quarter with seven points.
PLAY OF THE GAME
You love to see it.
The Celtics travel to face the Miami Heat on Wednesday with tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET.