What a beatdown! In game 5 tonight, Boston took care of Toronto in a very impressive showing. The Celtics played a smothering defense, from start to finish. Their defensive efforts lead to some easy baskets and they lead from the very beginning of this game. I don’t even know where to start in this one!
I guess the defensive efforts of the Celtics is as good a place to start as any. They held Toronto just 11 points in the first quarter. By halftime, they had a 27 point lead. They outplayed them in every way imaginable. Toronto came out with much more energy in the second half, but they were never coming back from that deficit. There where several stretches in this game, including one of about 5 minutes, that the Raptors where held scoreless. Poor 3 point shooting plagued Toronto, once again.
Individually, a lot of guys stood out for Boston. I want to talk about Daniel Theis. He has been great in this series and it was true again in this game. If you didn’t watch the game and just checked the box score, he isn’t the first name to jump out at you. His impact on the game cannot be measured though. His presence alone was such a big part of Boston’s excellent defensive. On the other end, he is a decent enough threat that he demands attention. If he is left unguarded, he will score the ball. Theis finished with 15 points (a perfect 5 from 5), 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. For me, he was the most important player for the Celtics today.
Jaylen Brown bounced back in a very convincing fashion. 55% overall and 43% from downtown. He finished with 27 points to lead all scorers for Boston. Kemba is really showing what a great player he is and what an excellent fit he is for the Celtics. His 3 point shooting was poor, but otherwise he had an excellent game. Walker finished with 21 points, 4 rebounds and 7 assists. Tatum had a double/double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, but he did not shoot the basketball well.
For Toronto, their two best players were Normal Powell and Matt Thomas. That says everything you need to know right there. I don’t mean any disrespect to those guys, but when they are the two players that stand out, the Raptors never stood a chance. Honestly, they weren’t even that good, that just stood out as the best. At least Thomas made good decisions with the basketball and scored efficiently. I don’t know how much stock you like to put in the plus/minus, but Thomas was one of only 2 Raptors with a positive number in that column. The other was Terence Davis.
First up, it’s time to take Marc Gasol out of the game. He is just a liability at this point. Theis is dominating him at the centre position. Gasol is incapable of scoring and is unable to stop anyone on the defensive end. There are a lot of zeros on his stat sheet tonight. It is time to give Serge the start. At least the opposition have to honour him defensively.
It was a cold start for VanVleet once again. He was under 30% from long range and finished on just 18 points. Lowry spent too much time arguing with the officials and not enough time playing basketball. He finished with 10 points on 37% shooting. Siakam has forgotten how to play basketball without fouling. He was in foul trouble again in this game and struggled to make an impact on offense. Which is a shame, because he was one of a few guys who was actually scoring well. He just couldn’t stay on the floor and did not get enough shots up. After singing the praises of OG Anunoby just the other day, he disappeared. 27% shooting from the field for OG, just one 3 pointer made and he finished on 7 points and 7 rebounds. Most of them came in the first few minutes of the game.
As garbage as Toronto was on offense, you have to give full credit to the Celtics for how they played. They smothered the Raptors on defense and dominated the game on offense. Boston had 6 guys score in double figures, shot at a higher percentage, out rebounded, had more assists, blocks and less turnovers. Total domination by Boston and they win 111-89.
We go from a tightly contested defensive game into an offensive battle to end the double header. It was a heartbreaking loss for Denver tonight, they played 45 minutes of excellent basketball and then disappeared for the final 3. It’s cliched but it’s also true, you have to play 48 minutes to win a game of basketball. Clippers win this one, 113-107.
Even though his team lost, it’s hard to not talk about Jokic and his incredible performance. 32 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists on 54% shooting. The big man even shot a few timely triples, but not at the efficiency you’d hope. The 32 points wasn’t even the highlight, he passes the ball so well, that’s what stole the show for me. He played a good game of basketball and it was the for the whole game, not just a quarter and a half. Michael Porter Jr. was also fantastic. He had a double/double with 18 points (47%) and 10 rebounds, all in just 23 minutes of game time. Murray could not score the ball very well tonight (29%) but he managed to draw a bit of defensive attention and he played smart to get other guys going. He finished with 9 assists.
For the victorious Clippers, it was the big 2 leading the way. Paul George never looked like he could miss tonight, 67% overall and a very impressive 5 of 7 from downtown. George finished on 32 points. Leonard had his hands on everything, once again. He even blocked a Murray dunk attempt with his finger. Seriously. Go check it out. Leonard couldn’t hit a 3, but that was honestly the case for most players on both teams. Kawhi finished with a double/double of 23 points and 14 rebounds.
This match went right down to the end, unfortunately for Denver, they couldn’t step up when it mattered the most. They went to Grant on far too many possessions in the last few minutes. Grant had a terrible shooting night, the ball should of been in the hands of MPJ or Jokic. Denver really let this one slip, but like I said, you need to play the whole 48 minutes. The Clippers came up big when it mattered. They turned up the defensive intensity, especially in the fourth quarter. They held the Nuggets to just 19 points. It felt like the Nuggets had to get that win if they were going to have any chance moving forward. However, I was really impressed with their showing tonight. I thought L.A. would sweep the Nuggets, or at worst win in 5. Whilst that is still on the table, I wouldn’t be surprised anymore if Denver can push it to 6.