The Boston Celtics looked like they had the series in the bag with 0.5 seconds left in Game 3, and now their advantage is gone. The Toronto Raptors have shown the heart of a champion, and they’re carrying some serious momentum coming into the fifth game of their conference semi-finals series.
Catch the game on September 8, 2020 at 6:30 AM (Manila Time).
HOME TEAM: #2 Toronto Raptors (2-2)
Just a couple of days ago the defending champion Raptors were on the ropes, 0.5 seconds away from sinking in an inescapable 0-3 hole. Now, they’re in the driver’s seat after tying the series in Game 4.
There’s not one particular change that stood out as it’s been a collective led by their three headlining scorers. In the last two games, Kyle Lowry is at 26.5 PPG (+10 compared to Games 1 and 2), while Fred VanVleet has 21 PPG and 10 total threes (compared to five in Games 1 and 2). Pascal Siakam hopped on the redeem train in Game 4 as he had a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds (he only had 15.3 PPG on 36.2 FG% through Games 1-3).
Look for more of the same from Lowry, VanVleet and Siakam. The Raptors are averaging 99.3 PPG in the series and 102. PPG in the last two.
The main worry for the Raptors is how many minutes their star trio is playing, because they’re all averaging more than 40 minutes a game.
ROAD TEAM: #3 Boston Celtics (2-2)
The Celtics may have gotten hit hard by that gut-wrenching, last-second loss in Game 3. They played catch-up for pretty much the entirety of Game 4 and could not get into any kind of solid rhythm.
Jayson Tatum double-doubled with 24 points and 10 boards, but it was far from enough as the two other primary scorers were almost non-existent. Jaylen Brown could not buy a basket all game and he finished shooting 4-for-18 from the floor (2-for-11 from three), while Kemba Walker only took nine shots (4/9 FGs) in 41 minutes and instead became a facilitator, posting 15 points and eight assists.
Walker and Brown should be able to do better in Game 5, but the Celtics must should also look to be more efficient in their outside shots. They have been forcing the three in the two losses and have combined to go a dreadful 16-for-64 (25%) from deep in Games 3 and 4.
Boston is scoring just 98 PPG in the last two, which is -9 compared to Games 1 and 2.
It’s back to square one so I expect this clash to have all the thrill and excitement of a classic tiebreaker. Look for an all-out back-and-forth battle.
The Raptors have flipped the switch and are playing with a lot of confidence right now. However, since they only won a fairly close game despite Walker and Brown’s dud performances, I’m leaning towards the Celtics for Game 5.
Celtics win a close one, 106-103.