Celtics Tie NBA Playoff History vs Raptors in Game 5

Getty Images Kyle Lowry and Jaylen Brown on the floor over a loose ball during the first quarter in Game 5

The Celtics entered Game 5 Monday night knowing how important it would be for them to set the right tone early against the Raptors.

Toronto, winners of back-to-back wins in its best-of-7 series, had an opportunity to grab a commanding 3-2 lead Monday but the Celtics struck the Raptors first by the tune of a dominating 25-11 first quarter. The Raptors found themselves on the wrong side of NBA history, it marked the fewest points scored in any playoff quarter after the first round (11) since 1991, per Sporting News, and then the Celtics poured it on in the second frame, where they outscored the Raptors, 37-24.

The Celtics cruised to a 111-89 win, grabbing a crucial 3-2 lead and are now one win away from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals for the third time in four years.

“We were really active, we were just trying to play hard, as hard as we could,” Stevens said. “You know, they just missed a couple of shots, we missed some shots in the first quarter but you’re playing with great purpose. You can feel that from the get-go so just hoped you can knock some in and get something going and we did but they’ve very tough to guard. They got a lot of people to go to. We’re going to have to be good again Wednesday night.”

Six Celtics players scored in double figures for Stevens, including all five members of his starting lineup. Jaylen Brown set a team-high 27 points, Kemba Walker drained 21 on 8-of-15, Jayson Tatum notched a double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Daniel Theis added 15.

Nick Nurse: ‘You Can’t Trick Them (Celtics)’

Boston held the Raptors to 38.8% shooting from the floor, including a 30% clip from behind the arc (12-of-40).

“You can’t trick them (Celtics), even when we’re doing other schemes and defenses it still really comes down to protecting the paint, rim protection, and your level of shot-challenge and your physicality,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said following Monday’s loss. “I was really disappointed the way we protected the rim. In general, that’s everybody’s job.

“Everybody’s job is to keep the ball in front, if it’s not in front, you’re supposed to start bringing help and rim protect, again I haven’t watched it but it sure felt like it was a tough game at the rim on both ends.”

Kyle Lowry: ‘I Wasn’t Aggressive Enough’

Fred VanVleet’s finished with a team-high 18 points for the Raptors. Norman Powell led the bench with 16 and Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry (3-of-8) each only added 10 points on a combined 8-of-17 from the floor.

“They were comfortable,” Lowry said Monday night. “We weren’t aggressive enough, they were very comfortable from the jump. We weren’t as assertive as we should have and personally I wasn’t aggressive enough to start.”

The Raptors All-Star point guard says there’s plenty to learn from in Game 5 and he plans to use it as fuel for the rest of the series.

“You learn from it, every single game is a different game,” Lowry said. “Games 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 now are different games. It’s the playoffs so you learn from it, make adjustments and continue to grow and figure it out. Right now we’re in the brink of elimination so we’re literally fighting for our lives right now and on the basketball floor it’s win or go home.”

READ NEXT: Celtics All-Star Says Game 4 Loss Was Self-Inflicting

Read More