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Celtics Take 2-0 Series Lead Over Raptors
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Through two games of the East semifinal series between the Raptors and Celtics, Boston just looks like the better team. Jayson Tatum has continued his postseason excellence, putting up 34 points in Game 2 as the Raptors couldn’t do enough to even the series. It wasn’t as if shots weren’t falling for Toronto — although shooting 27.5 percent from 3-point range certainly didn’t help — but the Celtics just played a more complete game on both ends of the floor. So far, the absence of Gordon Hayward hasn’t deterred the Celtics in this series. Marcus Smart has stepped into the starting lineup seamlessly and is contributing a considerable amount on offense. 

The Raptors will need to do a better job down the stretch in close games, and try to contain Tatum far better in order to climb back into this series. Here’s everything you need to know for Game 3.

Viewing information

  • Date: Thursday, Sept. 3 | Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Disney Wide World of Sports — Orlando, Florida
  • TV: TNT
  • Odds: Raptors -1 | Over/Under: 215 (via William Hill Sportsbook)

Storylines

Raptors: For as good as Pascal Siakam was during the regular season (23 points per game), that play hasn’t quite translated into the postseason so far. When Kawhi Leonard left in free agency last summer, Siakam was naturally expected to step into the role as the go-to guy for the Raptors, and that hasn’t happened at all in this postseason. In the first series against the Nets, Toronto relied heavily on the spectacular play of Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry. That was enough against an inferior Brooklyn team. However, in this semifinal round against the Celtics, Toronto needs Siakam to step up significantly and take over games when it matters in the fourth quarter. His play needs to improve in order for the Raptors to get back in this series.

Celtics: While Tatum has been playing great per usual, Boston got a surprise performance out of Robert Williams in Game 2. In the first quarter, he made five shots to extend his perfect streak to 10 made field goals. When the Celtics were struggling to put points on the board in the first quarter, Williams’ production kept them in the game. After the game, head coach Brad Stevens said that the young big man will get more opportunity going forward in this series after his solid play. He’s doing the most with his playing time when he’s called upon, and so far, Toronto hasn’t quite figured out how to stop him. It’ll be interesting to see how the Celtics use him more going forward.

Prediction

The Celtics have been great, and Toronto has looked purely outmatched in the first two games. However, I don’t expect the defending champions to go down 3-0, as Nick Nurse and Kyle Lowry will find a way to pull out this win. Pick: Raptors -1

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