The Raptors are on verge of extinction. The #3 Boston Celtics took a 2-0 series lead against the #2 Toronto Raptors when the Raptors sharpshooters went cold. The Celtics have now won six postseason games in a row after sweeping their opening-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Both top seeds in the NBA Eastern Conference are now in an 0-2 hole. The top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks also fell behind 0-2 after they were upended by the #5 Miami Heat.
The Raptors are a slim one-point favorite heading into Game 3. They were favorites in the first two games, but the Celtics won both as underdogs. The Celtics won Game 1 by eight points 112-94. The Raptors were edged out 102-99 by the Celtics in Game 2.
#2 Toronto Raptors (0-2) vs. #3 Boston Celtics (2-0)
Tip-Off: 3:30pm PT
Point Spread: TOR -1
Total: 215 o/u
Money Line: TOR -115 / BOS +105
The Celtics are the favorites to win the series with -500 odds. The Raptors are +360 odds to come from behind to defeat the Celtics and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Oddsmakers at DraftKings updated their NBA futures, and the Celtics are now 5/1 odds to win the NBA championship.
The Raptors saw their title odds tank after the 0-2 start. The defending champs are now 20/1 odds to repeat.
Raptors Arctic Cold Beyond the Arc
When your defensive stopper leads your team in scoring, you’re in deep trouble. OG Anunoby led the Raptors with 20 points and knocked down 4-for-6 from 3-point land.
The Celtics also did a bang-up job shutting down Pascal Siakim. In Game 1, the zebras helped the Celtics by whistling Siakim for a couple of quick fouls in the first quarter. With Siakim in foul trouble, it took him until the second half to get his groove going, and by then, it was too late.
In Game 2, Siakim couldn’t get comfortable and the Celtics sent multiple defenders to harass him all game. He finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, and six assists, but the Celtics were able to contain Toronto’s star player.
Fred VanVleet scored 19 points, but had a rough day from downtown. He shot 3-for-12 from 3-point range. Kyle Lowry gutted through an ankle injury, but he shot blanks from long distance with an 0-for-7 clip.
Norman Powell scored just four points in limited playing time off the bench. Serge Ibaka provided all off the bench scoring with 17 points and nine rebounds.
The Raptors sharpshooters — Powell, VanVleet, Lowry — combined for 3-for-21 from 3-point range. The rest of the team picked up the slack and shot 8-for-19 from downtown.
“The shots are there,” said Lowry. “We just have to make them. All we’ve got to do is get one game.”
Heading into Game 3, the Raptors will have to shoot better and play better transition defense if they hope to avoid an 0-3 death sentence.
“We know the next game’s super-critical,” said Raptors coach Nick Nurse. “But they’re all critical. They are. But we know this one’s super-critical.”
Smart’s Surge, Smothers Siakim
Jayson Tatum led all scorers in Game 2 with 34 points on a perfect 14-for-14 from the free-throw line.
However, it was Marcus Smart who ignited the Celtics’ run in the second half. Smart lit up the Raptors with five treys in a three-minute span. Smart hit six shots and all of them were 3-pointers. He finished Game 2 with 19 points.
“Once I saw the first one go in, I knew,” said Smart.
“I ain’t never played with nobody like Smart,” said teammate Jayson Tatum. “I ain’t never met nobody like Smart. He is one of a kind.”
In Game 2, the Celtics zeroed in on shutting down Siakim. He missed 10 shots, including three 3-pointers, but the Celtics kept him out of the paint and forced him to shoot mid-range jumpers.
“We’re going to keep throwing our biggest, strongest guys in there because he’s a load going downhill,” said head coach Brad Stevens.
The Celtics know the key to winning the series is to not allow Siakim to finally bust out of his mini-slump. If Siakim wakes up, the series will quickly flip momentum.
Despite the 2-0 edge, the Celtics won’t let off the gas.
“This series is far from over,” noted Tatum. “You’ve got to win four.”