Boston Celtics, NBA Playoffs, Toronto Raptors

Celtics take 2-0 lead on Raptors behind Marcus Smart’s shooting surge

Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart led the Boston Celtics to a 2-0 lead over the Toronto Raptors.

After a somewhat surprising upset in Game 1, the Boston Celtics made sure the defending NBA champions knew they weren’t messing around with a narrow Game 2 victory on Tuesday to take a commanding 2-0 lead in this second-round playoff series.

Led by Marcus Smart’s fourth-quarter scoring barrage and Jayson Tatum’s 34 points on a perfect 14-of-14 shooting from the foul line, the Celtics turned an eight-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter into a three-point win, outscoring the Toronto Raptors 32-21 in the final period.

While the Raptors got 20 points out of OG Anunoby, 17 off the bench from Serge Ibaka and had five players score at least 15 points, their 3-point shooting abandoned them for the second straight game. Now they face a hole that will be tough to climb out of against a team that has its sights set on the conference finals.

Final

Boston Celtics

102

Toronto Raptors

99

What else did you miss in Game 2 between the Raptors and Celtics?

Turning point: Marcus Smart goes ballistic from 3

At the start of the fourth quarter, the Celtics trailed 78-70. But then Marcus Smart ignited like the Human Torch, dropping five straight 3-pointers — the last of which came on a 4-point play — to turn that eight-point deficit into a one-point lead.

Smart scored 16 straight points for the Celtics in that stretch, and he finished with all but three of his 19 points on the night in the final period.

It was easy to clown him after his Flop of the Year submission in the third quarter, but he responded in a big way when his team needed him most down the stretch. What’s more, after shooting 2-for-15 from downtown in the first round of the playoffs, he’s already 11-for-20 from deep through these first two games against Toronto.

Unsung hero: Time Lord

He didn’t do much after his initial first-quarter burst, but boy, was Robert Williams huge for Boston off the bench in that opening period. Entering the game halfway through the first quarter for Daniel Theis, Time Lord immediately brought an energetic and more athletic dynamic to the table for the Celtics.

Williams was effective finishing as the roll guy out of the pick-and-roll, attacked the offensive glass for an authoritative put-back dunk and even knocked down a mid-range jumper, putting up 10 quick points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting.

While he only finished his night with 11 points and 4 rebounds on the night in his 18 minutes, that first-quarter injection of energy made a big difference in keeping Boston level through the game’s early stages.

LVP: Raptors’ 3-point shooting

The Celtics only hit four more 3-pointers than Toronto in Game 2, but the Raptors shooting 11-for-40 from distance (28.2 percent) was undoubtedly their downfall on Tuesday. Boston, meanwhile, hit 15 of its 38 triples, good for a 40.5 percent conversion rate.

The backcourt struggled in particular, with Fred VanVleet shooting just 3-for-12 from distance and Kyle Lowry going 0-for-7 from beyond the arc.

Teams live and die by the 3 more than ever in the NBA, because that shot has become intrinsic to success in today’s league. But in these kinds of hard-fought battles, it definitely matters that through two games, the Celtics are 32-for-77 (41.6 percent) and the Raptors are 21-for-80 (26.3 percent).

Next: 4 big questions for Game 7 of Nuggets vs. Jazz

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