Toronto had a chance to win Friday night’s showdown with the Celtics in regulation. It just couldn’t make it happen.
With the game knotted up at 107-107 with 24.5 seconds remaining in regulation, Toronto’s rookie head coach Nick Nurse called for a timeout and drew up a play to go for the win on the road. He really didn’t need to draw up anything. A few words words would’ve done the job: “Get out of Kawhi’s way.”
Nurse asked every Raptors player not named Kawhi Leonard to spread the floor while Leonard operated alone from midcourt in an isolation matchup against Marcus Morris. Leonard dribbled the clock down all the way to four seconds before taking two dribbles with his right hand into the right wing. He tossed up a shot from 17 feet over the outstretched hands of Morris, and the shot clanked off the back of the rim.
That was Toronto’s one and only chance at depositing this game into its win column. Boston controlled overtime en route to a 123-116 win.
The Celtics never trailed during overtime and built a seven-point lead on three separate occasions, including with the final score. Four of Boston’s five players who participated in overtime scored during the extra frame.
The only one who didn’t? That was Morris, but he didn’t need to score. He was most concerned with shutting down Leonard, just as he did on that final play of regulation.
“Morris, I thought,” said Brad Stevens, “did as good as you can do against Leonard late.”
And that’s the biggest reason why the Celtics grabbed this entertaining win in front of a national audience.
Kyrie Irving wasn’t just good Friday night. He was great.
Efficient? Ha. He blew efficient out of the water.
Irving shot an astounding 18-of-26 from the field en route to a game-high and season-high 43 points against the Raptors. He also dished out a game-high 11 assists, which accounted for four more helpers than any other player in the game tallied.
Irving’s 43 points marked the most he has ever scored as a professional during a double-double performance. His previous high was 39.
The All-Star point guard got it done from all over the court. He made three of his six 3-pointers and eight of his nine midrange jumpers. He also added in seven makes on 11 attempts from inside the restricted area.
What a performance. What a game. You’ll certainly have an opportunity to hear more about both right here on Celtics.com.
Box Score Nuggets
- Both teams scored at least 50 points in the paint (52 by Toronto, 50 by Boston).
- Kyrie Irving tallied game highs of 43 points and 11 assists.
- Kawhi Leonard led Toronto with 31 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.
- Leonard led the game in rebounds, but Boston still outrebounded Toronto 46-43 overall.
- Both teams led by double-figures at some point of the game.
- Gordon Hayward stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals.
- Irving also pitched in four steals.
- Jayson Tatum and Serge Ibaka each scored 21 points for their respective teams.
- Al Horford led Boston in rebounds with nine.
- Marcus Morris and Jonas Valanciunas tied for the game high in scoring off the bench with 11 points apiece.
- All of Toronto’s reserves finished with a plus/minus rating of minus-13 or worse.
Quote of the Night
I think it’s fair to say when he’s got it going like that, you tweak everything. You stop yourself in your tracks and look for spacing and for opportunities to get him the ball with a live dribble.
Brad Stevens on Kyrie Irving.
BOSTON — Considering who he was guarding, Boston Celtics rookie Robert Williams III …