Raptors’ Nick Nurse Blasts Refs After Celtics Win Game 2

Getty Images Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors and referee James Williams talk during the first quarter

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse expressed his frustration with the officials following the Raptors’ Game 2 loss to the Celtics Tuesday night.

In a game where the Celtics trailed by 12 points in the second half, All-Star Jayson Tatum helped guide Boston to a 2-0 lead in their best-of-7 series behind his new playoff career-high 34 points, including 14-of-14 free-throw attempts. Nurse discredited Tatum’s performance and claims the officials had much to do with the disparity in attempts at the line between the two teams.

“The only frustrating part about it is this,” Nurse said. “He shoots 14 free throws, which is as much as our whole team shoots – that’s the frustrating part. I think our guys were working hard on him and we were doing a pretty good job.

“They were obviously getting him the ball a lot, getting him some space. We could have helped a little bit better here and there but they took pretty good care of him tonight.”

Tatum’s Technical Foul

Toronto went 16-of-19 from the free-throw line while the Celtics drained an impressive 23-of-25 from the charity stripe. Tatum, who expressed his frustration to the officials before the end of the game, earned himself a technical foul, which ultimately turned the Celtics’ four-point lead (100-96) with 1:10 left to play into a one-point game (100-99) with 1:01 to go thanks to Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, who went 3-for-3 from the line after he drained the tech before drawing a shooting foul.

Tatum was whistled for an offensive foul. He immediately protested by swinging his arm in front of an official, who immediately slapped Tatum with a tech.

“They made the right call,” Tatum said. “It’s the playoffs, guys playing hard, playing with a lot of emotion. Sometimes it’s hard to control that and they gave me the tech. It was the right call and you’ve got to move on.”

Toronto’s Late-game Execution

Kemba Walker ultimately hit a big shot down the stretch for the Celtics before the Raptors missed their final attempt as the shot clock expired. Despite Smart’s sensational outside touch, Toronto’s effort down the stretch came one 3-pointer short of forcing overtime.

“It wasn’t like we were dribbling around and having shot clock violations and having to heave them up,” Nurse said. “I think there were some opportunities there. Freddy (VanVleet) had a couple of shots. Pascal (Siakam) made a great move to get it from about four feet one time; it just popped out. Those are a couple I can remember. We made a couple good hard drives and scored, we made a couple of hard drives and got to the free-throw line.

“I don’t think it was the last five-to-six minutes, it was the first five-to-six minutes that hurt us in that quarter.”

Marcus Smart’s epic shooting display at the beginning of the final frame had a whole lot to do with that. He made three consecutive 3-pointers in just over one minute then tacked on two more – Smart solely outscored the Raptors, 15-7 in that span.

Nurse, who’s been in this position before, was asked to compare being down 0-2 this year to last year when Toronto prevailed from an 0-2 hole against the Bucks and conquered its best-of-7 series. The Raptors then went on to win the NBA Finals.

“We should know we shouldn’t give up, right? We know the next game is supercritical, they’re all critical,” Nurse said. “But we know this one’s supercritical.”

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