The Boston Celtics continued their Eastern Conference dominance Monday night, defeating the Toronto Raptors 116-110 at Scotiabank Arena.
The Celtics improved to 20-5 on the year, while the Raptors dropped to 12-12.
Check out the full box score here.
ONE BIG TAKEAWAY
Entering the game without Al Horford and Malcolm Brogdon, the Celtics were unable to match the Raptors’ physicality throughout the game’s first 24 minutes. Toronto made it a point to take the 3-point shot away from Boston, running the Celtics off the line and forcing the game to be played inside the paint.
Considering the Raptors almost exclusively roster wing players with 7-foot wingspans, that was an issue early on. Toronto built a small lead heading into the half by attacking the rim and establishing a physical presence that led to the referees choosing to let the two teams duke it out. That worked out tremendously.
Until it didn’t.
Being the good team they are, Boston matched Toronto’s tempo and beat the Raptors at their own game, relying on its stars to get downhill and flip the momentum during a huge third quarter — all while watching the reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart take over and pester the Raptors ball handlers.
The Celtics haven’t had to win differently this year, usually running teams off the court with elite and consistent shot making. Monday was a different, and welcomed, story.
STARS OF THE GAME
— Smart may not have outpaced his teammates in the scoring department, but no one showed more heart Monday night in Canada. The veteran finished with 18 points, seven assists and two steals.
— Jayson Tatum was superb to kick off the second half, scoring 17 points in the third quarter alone. He finished with 31 points, 12 rebounds, one assist and one steal.
— Jaylen Brown was the Celtics’ do-it-all man, finishing the night with 22 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Blake Griffin got his second start as a member of the Celtics, presenting an opportunity for easy money along the way. DraftKings Sportsbook set his point total at 7.5, giving him +100 odds of surpassing the number. He finished with 13, meaning a $100 bet would have netted a total payout of $200.
The Celtics will continue their six-game road trip Wednesday, taking on the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET.