The Boston Celtics earned a narrow victory on Friday night to remain undefeated in the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament.
They traveled to Toronto and outlasted the Raptors for their second win in the Group Stage, 108-105. It marked their fifth consecutive victory altogether.
For the updated Group C In-Season Tournament standings, go here.
The C’s took a 16-point lead into the half but the Raptors erased the deficit with a dominant third quarter. It was a back-and-forth affair throughout the final frame, but a few clutch shots down the stretch gave Boston the edge.
Jaylen Brown returned after missing Wednesday’s game and dropped 23 points, tied for the game-high. He was one of seven Celtics to score in double figures.
Jaylen Brown, Kristaps Porzingis don’t miss a beat
Brown (illness) and Porzingis (knee contusion) were absent for Wednesday’s win over the Philadelphia 76ers, but they sure looked healthy on Friday.
Brown picked up where he left off with a 12-point first half and was the Celtics’ most consistent offensive player throughout the night. Porzingis did a little bit of everything for Boston on both ends of the floor.
Their two-man game was on display early and often as well. The two connected for a beautiful alley-oop in the second quarter.
Brown led the C’s with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting (3-5 3-PT) and four assists. Porzingis tallied 14 points (6-13 FG) but he was most impactful in the paint. He racked up 12 rebounds and three blocks, including this block that resulted in a Brown lay-up on the other end.
Surprisingly, this was Porzingis’ first game with double-digit rebounds game this season. He accomplished the feat by the 8:03 mark of the third quarter.
Horford and White were the heroes in Wednesday’s win over Philly, and it was déjà vu in Toronto.
With Tatum struggling (8-22 FG, 1-11 3-PT), the Celtics needed to look elsewhere for clutch shots down the stretch. Per usual, Horford and White were up for the challenge. Horford drained two consecutive huge 3-pointers — one of which put Boston ahead — in the fourth quarter.
White, coming off a 14-point fourth quarter against the Sixers, stepped up again in crunch time. He came through with what turned out to be the game-winning 3-pointer with 27 seconds remaining.
These two continue to have a knack for coming through in big moments.
Horford ended up with 11 points (3-4 3-PT) in 23 minutes off the bench. White finished with 13 points (4-10 FG, 3-8 3-PT) and five assists.
Total team effort
There wasn’t one star who stood out for the C’s in this one. Almost every player who took the court for Boston had at least one key moment.
Seven Celtics players scored in double figures, including all five starters. Horford and Sam Hauser (11 points, 3-6 3-PT) were the other two.
This win perfectly summed up the new-look C’s impeccable chemistry. The best example came to close the first half, when beautiful ball movement resulted in a Tatum 3-point buzzer-beater.
That was Tatum’s only 3-point make of the game. It was a rough shooting night for the superstar, but the Celtics overcame it with contributions from the rest of its loaded lineup. Brown paced the team in scoring, Porzingis shined on both ends, Horford and White came through in crunch time, Jrue Holiday (14 points, eight rebounds, five assists) did a little bit of everything, and Hauser started red-hot from beyond the arc.
With so many weapons, it’s no surprise the C’s are 10-2 and winners of five straight. They’ll look to keep it going Sunday in Memphis.