1Q Baynes, 2Q Morris, 3Q Tatum, 4Q Brad ☘️ – Celts 110, Raptors 99

Boston Celtics 110, Toronto Raptors 99 - March 31, 2018 - Aron Baynes - three-point shots - Brad Stevens - photo credit: MassLive

The two top-ranked teams in the Eastern Conference met on Saturday in Boston — and played like it. And Brad Stevens’s Celtics Army took a playoff-intensity game from Toronto, 110-99.

A different guy every night? With these teamness-rich Celtics, it often seems like a different guy every quarter.

Aron Baynes erupted for 12 points, including the second and third 3-point makes of his career, in the first quarter. Marcus Morris picked it up in the second, got Serge Ibaka in foul trouble, and wound up with 25 for the game — outscoring the entire Raptors bench. Jayson Tatum heated up for 14 points and 5 rebounds in the third.

And the fourth? Well, in addition to another display of Celtic #Teamness, the fourth quarter belonged to Brad Stevens. As Ibaka slid into foul trouble and went to the bench, Brad put the ball in the hands of Morris, Tatum, and Al Horford. When Toronto continued pouding it into the paint, he re-deployed twin-towers lineups featuring Greg Monroe and the #StevensEffect signature 2-3 zone defense.

The zone helped set up late steals and tips by Jaylen Brown, key blocks by Morris and Tatum, and a mini-rash of late Toronto turnovers.

From a tie score at 94-94, the Celtics ended the game on a 16-5 run. Boston clinched at least the #2 playoff seed in the East with the win, but more importantly, sent a message that they might be the Beast of the East even now.

Coach of the Year? The only real question is whether Brad Stevens should be nominated for a Nobel Prize in math, chemistry, or physics.

Rozier, Horford, Morris, Baynes — player notes

Terry Rozier (21 ponts, 7 assists) wowed the crowd with a crossovere-stepback 3-pointer in the first half on his way to points. But equally impressive was a fourth-quarter hard push that tied the score at 84-84.

Rozier also teamed with Brown and others in shutting down Kyle Lowry for most of the game. Lowry started the game with 7 early points, but finished with just 11, while Raptors reserves C.J. Miles and Fred VanVleet combined for just 14 between them. Toronto’s four primary guards also committed 9 turnovers.

DeMar DeRozan came into the game averaging less than 20 points against the Celtics, but was a lone bright spot for the Raptors with 32 points on just 19 shots. His penetration gave added urgency to Boston’s return to the 2-3 zone down the stretch.

Horford, returning from a bad ankle, was quietly efficient with 14 points on just 10 shot attempts to go with 5 rebounds. Morris led the Celtics with 9 rebounds.

Celtics highlights

Morris three builds Celtic lead to 6 points.

Strong Jayson Tatum move to the basket leads to the sweet dish to Mook.

Tatum with the wicked step-back, keeping the Celtics close in the third quarter. This move is illegal in 47 states.

Aron Baynes isn’t just a dominant scorer.

He’s also the best Australian point-center in the NBA, here dishing to Jaylen Brown.

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Celtics247 staff

Celtics247 staff

Celtics247 staff is composed of fans, journalists, disbarred attorneys, people laid off by ESPN, and other disreputable types who spend too much time watching basketball -- and loving it. If you'd like to join our merry band, you can post a comment, tweet us at @Celts247, or email us (see the contact page.) The only requirement is that you bleed green.
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