Celtics fossilize Raptors 126-114 at temporary Tampa home

iCrackStreamsJanuary 5, 2021

No seasoned point guards against the Toronto Raptors? No problem, at least not for the Boston Celtics against the Raptors in their adopted short-term home of Tampa, Florida.

Playing in the city’s Amalie Arena this season, there were likely as many if not more Celtic fans in the seats, itself a novelty of sorts as the Raptors “home” game went to pot in a hurry against Boston, who played some of the best basketball of their 2020-21 season for the first three quarters of the contest despite a number of key players sitting. Marcus Smart (thumb) was a late scratch, joining Kemba Walker (knee), Romeo Langford (wrist), Jeff Teague (ankle) and Javonte Green (health and safety protocols) as out for the 126 – 114 win.

“I missed playing in front of people,” said Tatum after the game. “There were a lot of Boston fans here today, so that … felt different.”

In truth it was more of a blowout than it looked, the Celtics’ deep rotation letting the Raptors get back into it in the fourth quarter — even necessitating a return to the floor of benched starters Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum after pushing the lead as high as 26 points in the second half.

The latter came up a point shy of his career high in the game, Tatum scoring 40 points and 6 rebounds, including a perfect 13-of-13 from the free throw line, and a sizzling 5-of-8 from deep.

Brown put up a casual 19 points and 5 boards casually, while rookie floor general Payton Pritchard nearly stole the show with a career-high 23 points and 8 assists off the bench.

Forward Grant Williams added 14 points and 6 boards, and reserve forward Semi Ojeleye scored 12 points and 8 rebounds in the win.

While the now 1-5 Raptors may not be the team many thought they might at the start of the season, the connected play throughout most of the game is a big step forward for a team that can’t afford to slack off in any area before getting back to full strength.


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