VanVleet scores 17 as Raptors beat Celtics 100-93 to even East semifinals at 2-2
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Pascal Siakam had 23 points and 11 rebounds, Kyle Lowry added 22 points and 11 boards and the Toronto Raptors evened the Eastern Conference semifinal at two games apiece, beating the Boston Celtics 100-93 on Saturday.
Two days after winning Game 3 on OG Anunoby’s 3-pointer as time expired, the Raptors didn’t need any big shots. Instead, they just put together long stretches of stops, shutting down most of Boston’s perimeter shooters and Jaylen Brown in particular.
Serge Ibaka had 18 points off the bench on 7-of-9 shooting and Fred VanVleet finished with 17 points, six rebounds and six assists.
Jayson Tatum had 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics. They won their first six postseason games before dropping the last two. Kemba Walker had 15 points and eight assists.
The Celtics were 7 for 35 (20%) from 3-point range. Brown missed his first nine attempts behind the arc and finished 2 for 11, and 4 for 18 overall. Tatum, Walker and Marcus Smart were all 1 for 6 on 3-pointers.
The Raptors got their own shooting untracked late in the third quarter to open the first sizable lead by either team and Boston couldn’t hit nearly enough shots to put much of a dent in it.
The Celtics were a half-second from taking a 3-0 lead, from which no NBA team has recovered, after Daniel Theis’ basket gave them a two-point lead Thursday. But Anunoby’s 3 got the defending NBA champions, who overcame a 2-0 deficit in the Eastern Conference finals, on the way to what they hope will be a similar recovery.
Coach Nick Nurse assumed the Raptors would quickly refocus after the euphoria of that victory, recalling how well they played on short rest after Kawhi Leonard’s series-winning shot to beat Philadelphia in Game 7 of the second round before falling in Game 1 at Milwaukee.
He was right, as Lowry sent them to a quick 11-4 lead with eight points. He scored 11 points in the first quarter, which ended with Toronto leading 31-27. There were five ties in the quarter, including when VanVleet’s 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds to go made it 49-all.
After some cold perimeter shooting by both teams, the Raptors finally had a strong stretch late in the third, getting two 3-pointers by VanVleet and another by Ibaka in a little over a minute to open their largest lead at 79-68. Toronto led by eight after three.
The Celtics never got closer than five in the final quarter and when they did for the final time, Tatum was called for an offensive foul with 32 seconds left.
Raptors: When Lowry checked out 1:31 left in the first quarter, it was his first break in game action since late in the first quarter of Game 3. He re-entered that game with 1:29 left in the period after about a 90-second break and he played the remainder of the game.
Celtics: Boston shot 44% overall. ... Brown finished with 14 points and six rebounds.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he believed Gordon Hayward, who sprained his right ankle in Game 1 of the first round against Philadelphia, would return to campus Monday. He said Hayward would then have to quarantine for four days, though it will be much longer before he
“But then he’s not going to play anytime soon,” Stevens said.
Nurse agreed with Denver coach Michael Malone’s comments Friday expressing disappointment that coaches weren’t allowed to have guests join them inside the bubble this week, as players did. But he also said he probably wouldn’t have brought his family anyway, not thinking it would be a great place for family, and noted that there are other team personnel who also couldn’t bring guests.
“So it’s more than just the coaches that are affected,” Nurse said.
When Lowry and Brown fouled each other, it caused some headaches for the public address announcer, who mixed up his No. 7s. When Brown fouled Lowry in the first quarter, he announced the foul was on Lowry, saying “my bad” after a moment of confusion. Lowry hacked Brown in the second and it was announced as a foul on the Celtics player.
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