In Game 1 of their second-round series, the Boston Celtics smothered the Toronto Raptors.
The Toronto Raptors looked like world-beaters during their first-round playoff sweep of the Brooklyn Nets, but with a much tougher opponent on deck in the second round, the defending NBA champions looked just as vulnerable as the league’s other top contenders.
In an 18-point trouncing in Game 1 that was convincing from start to finish, the Boston Celtics took a 1-0 lead in the series thanks to efficient 3-point shooting and smothering defense on the other end.
Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart led the way with 21 points apiece, Kemba Walker added in 18 points and 10 assists and Daniel Theis notched a double-double of his own with 13 points and 15 rebounds. Toronto was led by 17 points, 8 assists and 6 boards from Kyle Lowry.
What else did you miss in Game 1 between the Raptors and Celtics?
Turning point: A nearly perfect first quarter
The Celtics jumped out to a 39-23 advantage at the end of the first quarter and never looked back, burying the Raptors in an early hole and keeping them there for the rest of the game. In truth, it was about as perfect an opening quarter as Boston could’ve asked for.
The Celtics held their opponent to 8-of-22 shooting in the period while going 12-for-22 themselves. They made six 3s and generally set the tone for how the rest of the game was going to go, sustaining that 16-point advantage the rest of the day despite only winning the next three quarters by a combined two points.
It’s no wonder by halftime, the Celtics held a 17-point advantage while the Raptors had only shot 29.5 percent from the field.
LVP: Pascal Siakam
The Raptors were dominated across the board on Sunday, but Pascal Siakam’s performance somehow managed to stand out in all the wrong ways.
Finishing with 13 points and 3 rebounds on 5-of-16 shooting, including 0-for-3 from 3-point range, Spicy P was little more than mild in Game 1 for a Toronto squad that expects him to step into the Kawhi Leonard role as “the guy” on offense at some point in time.
Siakam has had a career year coming off his Most Improved Player award and championship-winning season. Now that he’s facing a much tougher Celtics defense, he has to be much better than he was on Sunday.
MVP: Marcus Smart
Jayson Tatum looked like the best player on the court on Sunday, but Marcus Smart — in addition to being his usual, irritating self on the defensive end — also chipped in 21 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Smart was also very efficient, shooting 6-for-10 from the floor and an impressive 5-for-9 from 3-point range. This shouldn’t be terribly surprising, since he’s never been afraid to let them fly and is attempting a career-high 6.6 3s per game this season, but when Boston’s best defensive player also shows up like this on the offensive end, this is a very tough team to beat.