The Boston Celtics started Game 6 strong. They outscored the Toronto Raptors 25-21 in the first quarter, and then pushed the lead to 41-29 midway through the second quarter.

They did it on the strength of Jaylen Brown’s play, as he continued to show off his offensive skills in the series with 21 points and six rebounds in the first half. This was much needed as Kemba Walker was scoreless and Jayson Tatum struggled with his shots, only making 2 of 8.

The Raptors did show their grit toward the end of the first half, though, and used their own small scoring run to cut the lead to 52-48 at the break. Kyle Lowry shouldered the load for them, with 15 points, three rebounds, two assists, and a steal.

Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam had problems as well, going a combined 3 of 16 from the field at the break.

The Raptors kept it close and cut the lead to one multiple times early in the third quarter.

With 7:36 left, the Raptors caught a break as Marcus Smart was assessed with a flagrant foul as he closed down on a VanVleet three attempt. VanVleet went on a personal 9-0 run after this foul to make it 67-62. Marc Gasol then answered a Jayson Tatum basket with another three pointer, making it a 70-64 advantage for the Raptors halfway through the third quarter.

The Raptors finished the third quarter with an 81-77 lead, setting up another gritty fourth quarter.

The Celtics turned up the heat in the final quarter, making four straight three pointers to suddenly take an 89-88 lead with 8:22 left in the game.

Kyle Lowry found an answer, though, as he hit a pair of threes to give the Raptors a 94-89 lead.

The Celtics fought back again, and Daniel Theis hit a pair of buckets to tie the game at 98 with two minutes remaining. Neither team scored again in the fourth to set up the overtime period.

The extra period was brutal, as both teams had four starters having played 39 minutes or more before OT.

The teams traded leads early in the extra period, until Walker made his second field goal of the game to make it 104-101 to boston with 2:24 left. Norman Powell answered with at here to tie it again at 104, and then hit a pair of free throws to make it 106-104.

Brown hit a pair of free throws with 18.9 left to tie it at 106. The Raptors couldn’t make the last shot, sending the game to a second overtime.

The Celtics scored the first two buckets to make it 110-106. Powell made another pair of free throws to make it a 110-110 game with 2:33 left.

Smart made it 115-112 with a huge three, which Powell answered to tie the game again.

OG Anunoby finally gave the Raptors a lead at 118-117 with a big three, and then Powell stole the ball and made a three-point play to make it 121-117.

Jayson Tatum made it 121-119 with a jumper but Lowry rose to the occasion again and hit a tough fallaway jumper to make it 123-119.

Jayson Tatum hit a three to make it 123-122. Powell again stayed cool at the line and hit a pair to push it back to 125-122. Smart missed a chance to tie the game one last time.

Lowry led the Raptors with 33 points, eight rebounds, six assists, two steals, a block, and a single turnover.

Siakam struggled. He could not make a bucket at the end of regulation or during OT and got stripped of the ball in key moments of the game as he drove to the basket. However, he still had the beast plus/minus of the game at +13.

Tatum, Brown, and Smart combined for 83 points for the Celtics, and Walker finished with just five points.

This game was about grit and heart. I wouldn’t be surprised if both teams passed out in their locker rooms after, considering how many minutes were played by key guys:

  • Tatum (51 minutes)
  • Walker (52 minutes)
  • Smart (50 minutes)
  • Brown (51 minutes)
  • Theis (47 minutes)
  • Siakam (54 minutes)
  • Anunoby (50 minutes)
  • Lowry (53 minutes)
  • VanVleet (51 minutes)

I absolutely cannot wait for Game 7.

Clippers take 3-1 series lead

The Denver Nuggets never got it going against the LA Clippers, starting with a horrible 26-12 first quarter and never recovering.

Nikola Jokic continued his strong play for the Nuggets, with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists. Jamal Murray pitched in 18 points, four rebounds, and seven assists.

The Clippers, on the other hand, relied heavily on Kawhi Leonard’s production to win the game. He had was one assist shy of another triple-double with 30 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists, four steals, and two blocks. He only turned the ball over once.

After a stellar Game 3, Paul George couldn’t get it going thanks to foul trouble and only managed 10 points, three rebounds, three assists, and one steal. He contributed mightily on defense though, and was a big reason that Murray failed to score 20 points.