After a roller-coaster series, the Celtics defeated the Raptors 92-87 in game 7. Granting Boston with a trip to the eastern conference finals against the Miami Heat. Although Boston is on to the next game, it’s worth some credit knocking off the defending champs.
With no Gordon Hayward, all series the Celtics were able to band together in game 7. Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis were unsung heroes. Both players didn’t have eye-popping numbers on the stat sheet. Smart played phenomenal drawing offensive charges and knocking down shots. Smart also played big, defending all positions on the court as he was a leader. Last night Smart made the biggest play of the game with under a minute left. In a Raptors fast break, Smart made an enormous block on Norman Powell which ultimately saved the game. His contribution has been astronomical to the team.
Daniel Theis also surprised others with his defense and rebounding. Theis was able to alter shots in the paint and guard the pick and roll that Toronto is deadly at. Despite only having 5 points and rebounds, he was a major key.
Other guys off the bench played solid as well. Robert Williams played hard with the minutes he was on the court. Williams blocked shots, defended the perimeter at times, and dunked over guys. Grant Williams made a key stop against Fred VanVleet preventing him from tying the game up. Williams came up huge last night right after missing 2 free throws.
Mental Toughness for the stars
The Celtics mental toughness was tested all series. Being 0.5 seconds away from going up 3-0 in the series to it being tied 2-2 must’ve been tough. But with each obstacle, another guy on the Celtics stepped up.
As for the stars on the Celtics, they played big when needed. Jayson Tatum is the second-youngest player with 25+, 10+ rebounds, and 5+ assists in a game 7. The youngest being Kobe Bryant. Which says a lot about the 22-year-old out of Duke. Jaylen Brown did an amazing job defensively on Pascal Siakam. And although Browns' defensive assignment sacrificed his offense, it was well worth it. Kemba Walker was able to shake and bake on defenders. Now that Kemba Walker is away from Charlotte and has talent around him, he’s flourishing.
Hats off to Toronto
As for Toronto, Kyle Lowry, VanVleet, and OG Anunoby deserve credit. Despite being undersized compared to Bostons frontcourt, they were a challenge. Lowry used his size and speed against defenders to his advantage. VanVleet knocked down threes in bunches when needed. And Anunoby hit the series altering shot in game 3. Siakam didn’t play like the #1 option on a team. Which is disappointing for a guy who’s being highly paid.
This series was an exciting one and didn’t fall short of expectations. Game 7 just capped up how the series pretty much went. Hard fought. Now the Celtics are on to Miami in hopes of getting to the NBA finals.
Featured Image Via Boston Herald