SIX CELTICS scored in double figures, led by Jaylen Brown with 27 points, as Boston dominated the Toronto Raptors 111-89 Monday night to take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series near Orlando.
Kemba Walker added 21 points, Jayson Tatum had 18 with 10 rebounds, Brad Wanamaker and Daniel Theis scored 15 apiece and Marcus Smart 12 for the Celtics, who rebounded from two consecutive losses after they had blown a 2-0 lead in the series.
Boston will get the chance to clinch a conference-finals berth with a Game 6 victory Wednesday.
Fred VanVleet had 18 points to top the Raptors, who never led in the contest and trailed by as many as 30 points.
The Celtics ran away early as the Raptors endured one of their worst scoring playoff quarters in franchise history. Boston was up 18-5 after 8 1/2 minutes as Toronto began 2-of-14 from the field.
The Raptors ended the quarter shooting 4-for-20, and they trailed 25-11. They hit one of nine shots from 3-point range.
Boston’s advantage hit 46-25 on a Tatum 3-pointer with 4:55 to go in the second. The lead reached as high as 28 before halftime, and the Celtics entered the break up 62-35 after Walker beat the buzzer with a floater.
Brown led Boston with 16 first-half points, Tatum added 12 and Smart and Wanamaker each had 10. Meanwhile, no Raptors players were in double figures. Toronto shot 13 of 43 (30.2%) in the half and four of 18 from 3-point range (22.2%). The 27-point halftime deficit tied the largest ever faced by a defending NBA champion during a playoff game, according to STATS.
The Raptors began the third with a 6-0 run, Pascal Siakam making a trio of short-range buckets, but the Celtics’ lead never dropped below 20 in the quarter. At 4:23, Boston’s advantage reached 79-49 on a Brown step-back jumper.
The Celtics led 87-63 after three, and the Raptors emptied their bench by midway through the fourth.
For the game, the Celtics outshot the Raptors 49.4 percent to 38.8 percent. Boston hit 24 of 27 free throws while Toronto made 11 of 13.
CLIPPERS RETAKE SERIES EDGE
Paul George scored 32 points and Kawhi Leonard added 23 as the Los Angeles Clippers outlasted the Denver Nuggets 113-107 on Monday to grab a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinal series near Orlando.
The Clippers trailed by as many as 12 in the first half but were able to move two victories away from a berth in the Western Conference finals. Leonard grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds and added a team-best six assists.
Nikola Jokic had 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists while Michael Porter Jr. added 18 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for the Nuggets. Jokic became the first player in Nuggets history with 14 career playoff games of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, who scored 50 points twice in the first round against the Jazz, was held to 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting. However, he logged a game-high nine assists.
The Clippers trailed 97-90 before going on an 8-0 run over a 1:28 stretch midway through the final quarter to grab a 98-97 advantage. Los Angeles extended the run to 14-4, taking a 104-101 lead with 4:27 remaining on a step-back jumper by Leonard.
When Lou Williams made a driving layup with 2:04 remaining, the Clippers held a 109-103 advantage, their largest of the game to that point.
The Clippers got off to a better start in Game 3, taking a 33-32 lead after one quarter a game after falling behind 44-25 after the first quarter of Game 2. George scored 10 points in the opening quarter Monday on four-of-seven shooting. — Reuters