Beating the Boston Celtics is no easy feat in 2022. Before their game against the Toronto Raptors began, they had gone 11-1 in their previous 12 games, and brought themselves from outside of the playoff spots to elicit whispers of potential title contention. They even briefly held the top spot in the Eastern Conference this week, where an unbelievably tight race for the top four seeds has everyone in those positions split by around one game.
The Raptors, though, have seen their own mid-season resurgence. They wouldn’t be kept down by the Celtics in a barnburner of an overtime contest, which ended in a close 115-112 victory that was full of drama up until the last seconds of the game. Toronto had been down by as much as 11 points in the game, and never held a lead bigger than three points. They’re now 8-2 over their last 10 games and have won three in a row.
Granted, it took a lot for them to get the victory against a shorthanded Celtics team, who sat both of their stars in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Robert Williams III was also missing because he unfortunately tore his meniscus and will be unavailable indefinitely – a big damper on the Celtics’ spirits since he’s been playing inspired basketball.
Still, the Raptors showed a lot of fight, rallying behind Pascal Siakam’s 40 points, 13 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Siakam, who shot 17 of 29 overall, also played huge on both ends of the floor before fouling out of the game. Siakam’s had an excellent March overall, as evidence by his stats for the month.
Fred VanVleet, who had struggled with his shot for the entire game, came up big in the fourth quarter with a pair of threes.
The Raptors now find themselves in sixth place, ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers by a game in the quest to avoid the play-in tournament. They’ve still got a lot of work to do, and will face the following teams over their last games:
- New York
They’ll take solace in knowing that the Cavaliers have the far tougher schedule:
- New York
It’s going to be fun to see which of these two teams manages to stay out of the play-ins, and the pressure will be on both squads until the postseason begins. Let’s see who manages to succeed.