A sense of desperation must be sinking in for the Toronto Raptors as they try to avoid certain doom in Thursday’s Game 3 of their NBA playoffs series with the Boston Celtics. No team has ever come back after being down 3-0 in a series, and the Raptors are one loss away from being put in that situation. They’ll have a mountain to climb against a Celtics team that seems to be peaking at the right time.
Stick a fork in the Raptors?
crushing defeat at the hands of the Celtics had Raptors fans scratching their heads on Tuesday night. What happened to the team that was shooting 37.4 percent from 3-pointer during the regular season?
They haven’t even shot above 27.5 percent in back-to-back playoff games against the Celtics. Their shooters are getting swarmed at the perimeter, and the confidence is slowly fading from existence.
This series might already be over.
There’s still an iota of hope that Pascal Siakam or even Kyle Lowry find it within them to have a monster offensive game to propel the team to at least one victory. All it takes is one to start building a little momentum and confidence in the team’s all-around shooting. They came into the series ranked 13th in offensive efficiency. While they may not boast an elite scorer, they have clearly proven they are capable of being more effective on that end of the floor than they’ve shown this series. Someone has to step up in Game 3, or this series is cooked to done like my mom’s T-bone steaks (God rest her soul).
Losing Game 2 has to be even more frustrating considering how the Raptors actually put up a good enough fight defensively to win that game. They have the defensive capabilities to give the Celtics fits, but they lack their own scoring presence that can stand toe-to-toe with Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, who has clearly been the best player on the floor.
Celtics must go for the jugular
How cold-blooded are these Celtics?
That’s the biggest question heading into Game 3. Are they cold enough to survive a likely rallying cry from the Raptors and still find a way to impose their will on the series? Or, will we see them take the foot off the gas and let the defending champions back in the series with newfound hope.
Any amount of hope in a playoff series is a dangerous thing. The Raptors know what it takes to overcome adversity and win an NBA championship. So they aren’t just going to lay down the rest of the way, even with the odds stacked against them. A punch-back moment is inevitable in any series trending in this direction, but the great teams roll with it and still figure out a way to get the job done. How good are these Celtics?
It’s time to find out.
One thing is certain: They’re good enough to lock out the Raptors on the perimeter. It shouldn’t come as any surprise considering they had the best 3-point defense throughout the regular season. They suffocated teams to the point where they were only averaging 33.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc. So what they’re showing right now isn’t anything new.
Tatum is literally budding into a superstar before our very eyes. If he continues to play at a superstar level and Gordon Hayward returns, the Celtics will be a legitimate threat to win the NBA championship this year. He dropped a career playoff-high 34 points and six assists in Game 2, but the Celtics as a whole didn’t play great offensively. That’s a terrifying revelation for the Raptors heading into a pivotal game on Thursday.