The Toronto Raptors are back. After going down 2-0 to the Boston Celtics in their second-round series, the Raptors won Game 3 in miracle fashion, then held off the Celtics to take Game 4, 100-93. All of a sudden the series is all tied up at 2-2, and Toronto has all the momentum.
Pascal Siakam finally stepped up for the Raptors, going for 23 points and 11 rebounds in his best game of the series, while Kyle Lowry was strong as well, finishing with 22 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. The Raptors dominated the 3-point battle in this one, knocking down 17 of their 44 attempts.
Jayson Tatum led the way for Boston, putting up 24 points and 10 rebounds, but they really struggled on the offensive end as a team. In particular, they were a disaster from the 3-point line, shooting 7-for-35, which was their worst outside shooting performance in the playoffs.
Here are some key takeaways from the game:
Siakam steps up
Pascal Siakam took on a much bigger role this season with Kawhi Leonard gone to the Clippers, and he handled it well in the regular season. The playoffs, however, have been a different story. He was fine, though not super impressive against the Nets in the first round, and really struggled in the first three games of this series.
On Saturday night, however, he finally delivered. After averaging 15.3 points in Games 1-3, Siakam went for 23 points and 11 rebounds on 10 of 23 from the field in Game 4. It wasn’t a terribly efficient performance, but simply getting that kind of production from him mattered more than his shooting percentage.
It will be interesting to see if this breakout game gives Siakam some confidence moving forward. If he’s broken out of this slump that’s a huge boost for the Raptors.
Raptors dominate the 3-point battle
The Raptors were fifth in the league in 3-point percentage in the regular season, hitting 37.4 percent of their attempts. But over the first three games, they couldn’t buy a shot from downtown, shooting 34 of 120, or 28.3 percent — nearly 10 percentage points lower than their regular season average.
In Game 3, they found their range. Led by Serge Ibaka (4 of 4), Fred VanVleet (5 of 11) and Kyle Lowry (4 of 10), the Raptors hit 17 of their 44 triples. Not only was it their best shooting game of the series by far, but they outscored the Celtics by a whopping 30 points from the 3-point line.
That was because the Celtics had their worst shooting game of the playoffs. They went 7 of 35, with Jaylen Brown being the only member of the team to hit multiple 3s. In fact, he went 2 of 11 from deep and somehow still finished with the best 3-point percentage (18.2) among starters — Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum all shot 1 of 6 (16.7 percent).
Second chance points a key factor
Neither team was especially prolific on the offensive glass in this game, with the Raptors grabbing eight offensive rebounds, and the Celtics pulling down six. And for the playoffs, the Houston Rockets are the only team still alive that does less damage in this department.
Considering those numbers, you wouldn’t expect second-chance points to be much of a big deal. But the Raptors were clinical in taking advantage of their extra chances, turning those eight offensive rebounds into 24 second-chance points. That’s right, they averaged three points per offensive rebound.
In other words, they got every single possible second-chance point. And not only was it their best performance in that category in the playoffs, but it was their second-best all season long. Along with their 30-point advantage at the 3-point line, the Raptors had a 12-point edge in second chance points.
That’s how you win a playoff game when you shoot 39 percent from the field overall.