Rapid Recap: Celtics narrowly take Game 2 behind record-setting Tatum and hot-shooting Smart

Rapid Recap: Celtics narrowly take Game 2 behind record-setting Tatum and hot-shooting Smart

Celtics

Rapid Recap: Celtics narrowly take Game 2 behind record-setting Tatum and hot-shooting Smart

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Rapid Recap is designed for the busiest of Celtics fans. Whether you can’t stay awake to read 10 paragraphs or your hangover is just too much, Rapid Recap tells the timeline of the game in only a minute or two.

As my Red’s Army compatriot Rich Jensen noted in this morning’s Dump, Game 2 was the Celtics’ chance to establish real title-contention potential—through a 2-0 series lead on the defending champs. That’s exactly what they did. The Raptors fought much harder this time—19 lead changes, as opposed to zero in Game 1, and 12 ties—but couldn’t execute at the end.

Making a new playoff record for himself, Jayson Tatum was consistently devastating on both sides of the ball with 34-8-6 and a steal. Behind him was Marcus Smart, whose three-point tear in Q4 catalyzed a Cs squad that had sank into a quagmire the previous quarter: 19 points including 5 threes, plus 3 rebounds, an assist and 2 blocks. Jaylen had an almost casual 16-8-2-3-2 line, and while Kemba Walker started with wretched shooting, he heated up at the end, sealing the 102-99 Celtics victory with a dagger jumper and finishing with 17-6-4.

Now, an essential non sequitur before our tweet-based recap:

Right off, it was clear the Celtics weren’t facing the walleyed version of the Raptors that screwed the pooch in Game 1, and naturally, Toronto’s arguably weakest link from that contest was a big part of it:

Counterpoint:

Nevertheless:

Second counterpoint: We got a Rob Williams dunk after the first timeout, which makes sense. He had to stop his non-linear travel through space-time at the right moment to smash that basket.

That kick-started an 8-0 Cs run to counter the Raps’ 9-0 run. Then there was another Timelord dunk, one that ended in a rough-looking hard fall, but ultimately a false alarm:

Williams finished with 11 points, 8 of which he got in under five minutes.

Boston had difficulty containing Toronto’s three-point shooting in Q1. Fred VanVleet was the biggest problem in that regard, though OG Anunoby was no slouch either. Nevertheless, the frame ended in a 28-28 tie, due in large part to the Timelord.

The second quarter began with some trouble due to the bench disparity between the Raptors and Celtics: Toronto’s is rather deep, while Boston’s…isn’t.

(The above being a response to Brad Wanamaker’s shouldering of Kyle Lowry in a non-malicious but irresponsible defensive attempt.)

Turnovers were also a notable Boston problem, as was an offensively out-of-sync Kemba, though neither hurt the team enough to keep the Cs from holding a narrow lead. (Walker eventually netted some points with a trip to the free-throw line.)

Despite moments like that, Toronto was still thoroughly in the game at the half with Boston up 50-48.

The Raptors came out hard to start the second half, much as they did the first, and retook the lead for the first time since about the 4:00 mark of Q2. Marc Gasol, pretty quiet in this series, morphed temporarily back into the defensive monster we once knew him as, and Serge Ibaka joined the Raptors’ three-point barrage. On the other hand, Kemba finally got a field goal, and the Jays stayed awesome, so things stayed close.

Again, that stupid Raptors bench, though:

And a noble but failed effort at Marcus Smart to grift an offensive foul only further emboldened Toronto:

(Apologies to the Pats fan readers for the following:)

78-70 Toronto at the end of three frames—not catastrophic, given how badly the Cs played in the last few minutes of Q3.

Marcus Smart, sensing that tweet with his superhuman perception, proceeded to hoist and can a trio of consecutive three-pointers.

He just…kept…making…triples.

Toronto began cracking somewhat under the pressure, making the sort of dumb fouls and turnovers that were Boston’s sole province in that rotten third quarter, and also finally going cold on the offensive end…

…well, for a little bit. Then suddenly Boston barely had a lead again, and we were seeing prime Kyle Lowry foul-grifting (which you have to accept if you root for SMARF to do it, but still), and your humble scribe was getting nervous…

But with a Cardiac clutch jumper and some critical misses by the Raptors, that was a wrap.

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