Marcus Smart made an impact both on the court and on the bench in the Boston Celtics’ 122-100 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night. Smart not only locked down defensively for the Celtics, who were in dire need of a good defense performance, but encouraged teammates to do the same. Celtics forward Jayson…Jayson Tatum Believes Marcus Smart ‘Heart And Soul’ Of Celtics Team — NESN.com
The Causeway St. Collapse in Boston might never leave the collective mindset of Leafs Nation and the current generation of players were looking at a long summer after blowing a three-goal lead on Thursday. Read MoreMiracle on Bay St. — Toronto Sun
Celtics send Raptors to first bubble loss in potential playoff preview
Author of the article:Mike GanterPublishing date:Aug 08, 2020 • Last Updated 39 minutes ago • 5 minute read
There’s no question NBA fans are long overdue for a Celtics/Raptors playoff matchup.
Despite the two teams sharing the same conference and each making the playoffs the past five years, a meeting post regular season has never happened.
If it does, the hope is it’s a lot more competitive than the game the two teams played last night.
The Raptors, one of two teams unbeaten in the Bubble since the seeding games began, can no longer make that claim after being thoroughly dominated by a Celtics team that before last night looked to be in a little bit of trouble.
Toronto’s defence, which had been the talk of the NBA campus, seemed to take the night off facing a Celtics team they will very likely see a few weeks from now in the Conference semi-finals barring an upset of either team in the first round.
Toronto’s defence was there in the early going but as soon as it became apparent that the Raptors weren’t having even a mediocre shooting night, the defence fell off precipitously.
A 14-point first quarter by the Raptors seemed to bring every other part of their game down as the Celtics ran away for a 122-100 win.
As for takeaways or learning lessons from this game, head coach Nick Nurse said there was very little, but he did come up with one.
“The only thing I probably did learn is we’ve got to get a couple of our guys playing a little better,” Nurse said stopping short of naming them. “I’m not really concerned about some of the main guys, but there’s a couple guys that need to play a little better since the restart and I’m glad we still have four games to get ’em going and give them that chance. I’m not worried about their work ethic or their conditioning or some of those things, just need to get them a little more confident, have things go their way a little bit more.”
Defensively the Celtics seemed to have more straight-line drives or uncontested gimme’s in this game than the Raptors have given up combined since the re-start.
Norm Powell, who was one of three bench players in double digits did not like what he saw from his team defensively at all.
“That’s us being a step late in the rotation, that’s us not putting in that second effort like we’ve been doing all year,” he said. “That’s something that we can take away from all this and knowing that we let them go where they wanted to go. We weren’t the ones that were being physical into the bodies like the way we were playing the previous three games,” Powell said.
“Each game we’ve been the ones being physical and were bringing that aggressive style and that physicality to them, but they brought it to us and we needed to respond and be a little tougher and stand in there help one another. You know, those straight-line drives and wide-open shots are us in our rotations that we see in film and we can get better at.”
Should these two teams finally meet in the playoffs a few weeks from now, expect a much crisper effort than the one the Raptors put in last night.
‘TRAIL BLAZERS’ RECOGNIZED
Nick Nurse and the Raptors have put together another initiative that is starting to get some notice around the league.
Much like the reaction the Raptors buses with Black Lives Matter logos covering them when they pulled into the bubble in Orlando, the Raptors’ ‘Because of You’ initiative is turning heads.
The players and their head coach were all decked out pre-game last night in shirts with the likeness of Wayne Embry on them. Embry has been the a senior advisor with the Raptors since 2004 but long before that he broke the colour barrier in the NBA twice. The first time came in 1971 when Embry became the first black general manager in league history with the Milwaukee Bucks. Twenty-three years later he became the first black president in the league with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Fittingly the Raptors chose Embry to be the man they began their ‘Because of You’ campaign.
Nurse explained the origin of the campaign pre-game.
“The phrase ‘because of you’ comes from Barack Obama to John Lewis,” Nurse said of the recently deceased civil rights leader. “John Lewis asked Barack Obama to sign a book, or a piece of paper or something, and Barack Obama wrote ‘because of you, John’ and signed his name. With the passing of John Lewis here recently, one of our members of our leadership team came up with this fantastic idea to honour some living legends that did some historic things. And Wayne Embry, right in our own organization, was one of those, becoming the first African-American general manager, then the first African American team president.”
Embry has been a sounding board and father figure in the organization since he arrived 16 years ago and as current team president Masai Ujiri has made very clear, he will be doing that as long as Ujiri is in his position and as long as Embry wants to remain.
Nurse is hoping other teams will follow the Raptors lead on this one and begin their own initiatives.
RAPS DOWN ONE
The Raptors depth took a bit of a hit Friday when guard Pat McCaw was forced to leave the NBA bubble for medical treatment.
McCaw, whose injury has been kept in house until now, is dealing with the reoccurrence of a benign mass on the back of his left knee.
He’ll leave the NBA campus in Orlando to seek treatment from Dr. Riley Williams at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York to determine his next step.
McCaw previously saw Williams in November for the same condition.
“He’s already had it checked and is scheduled to go have it done, to leave on Monday,” head coach Nick Nurse confirmed pre-game. “I think they checked it and it’s hurting him, but it’s not terribly bad. I think we’ll have to see how the procedure goes Monday, but what the reading was as of last night was that it’s not that bad but it needs to be cleaned up just a little bit. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed that it goes well and it’s not too extensive.
McCaw did not take part in any of the scrimmages or seeding games to date. Pre-pandemic this season he appeared in 37 games averaging 24.5 minutes a game with 4.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
Under NBA rules, the Raptors are not entitled to replace McCaw with another player. The roster now stands at 16 players.
An update on his status will be provided when appropriate according to the team.
Late in Friday’s game, Serge Ibaka was forced to leave after getting poked in the eye.
Q. (Chris Johnston, Sportsnet): I’m just wondering what will you remember most about that comeback?
SHELDON KEEFE: Just the resilience of our team and how it just put new life in our group. It was pretty remarkable to be a part of it.
Q. (Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun): For Sunday now, how do you get to a point where you don’t have to play like that in the last five minutes and maybe have some of that push much earlier in the game than in the final stages of the third?
SHELDON KEEFE: I think we played a good game today. Obviously, we don’t that we got behind early. It’s a much more difficult team to play against when you’re behind than when you’re even or ahead, of course. They’ve clearly established that as part of their identity. It was a tough road for us today, but our guys played really hard. It wasn’t perfect, but our guys played really hard and it was nice to see them get rewarded.
Q. (Josh Clipperton, The Canadian Press): This core has taken its fair share of criticism. What did they show tonight?
SHELDON KEEFE: Again, just resilience, just that they weren’t going to quit. Once we got one and got a little bit of life, they kept pushing. It was really nice and fitting the way that the goal was scored, the winning goal, Mitch to JT to Auston. But this was a group effort today. There was a lot of contributions. Look at the play of our fourth line today. They were outstanding. Jason Spezza just did not our season to end today and he played with that level of urgency. You see the fight, that’s just playoff hockey. That’s a guy who’s just not wanting to go down literally without a fight. It was great. It would have been so disappointing, of course, for it to end the way it was looking like it was going to. This is a funny game, a funny, funny game. I think there’s been times in this series where we haven’t been rewarded, perhaps, when we should have. A little bit of good fortune today as a result of some of our resilience. I thought we were pretty good in overtime and made good on our power play.
Q. (Luke Fox, Sportsnet): Can you describe what the mood was like in the dressing room during the second intermission and what the message to the guys was at that point?
SHELDON KEEFE: The second intermission was actually pretty good. The first intermission, I think, was one that we kind of had to perk the guys up a little bit and get them going. First intermission I think just the way the period went, we didn’t get a whole lot and we were down, of course. The second intermission was actually really positive and felt good about the group. I don’t know that that necessarily materialized into anything productive on the ice necessarily and a credit to Columbus for how they played defensively. As I said, it’s crazy the way that it worked out. We’ve got new life here now. We were getting CPR there for a little bit and then we found our way back. Here we go.
Q. (Mark Masters, TSN): Sheldon, how would you describe what it was like with four minutes left in regulation. Could you sense the push coming? Did you and the coaching staff have to do anything to prod it out? What was your view of that moment?
SHELDON KEEFE: Columbus was doing a terrific job of really clogging things up in the neutral zone so we didn’t have a lot of life going. As coaches it’s our job to get the right people on the ice. Obviously, we had to pull the goaltender a lot earlier than you would normally want to. We just thought coming out of the TV timeout and the fact that we needed three goals and our best guys were fresh, it just made sense. We found a way to get one in. Suddenly you get the second one and now you’re in a game. It’s pretty remarkable, it’s been a pretty crazy 24 hours, obviously, from what we’ve been through here. What we’ve been through as coaches and players and staff and I’m sure fans, media, everything all the way around. It’s been a very interesting and unprecedented 24 hours. It’s on us to regroup and recover here and be ready to go for Sunday.
Q. (Kevin McGran, Toronto Star): What’s going through your mind the way the game unfolds through the third period with them going up 3-0? What are you thinking in those moments? You’ve tried every line combination you could think of, it looked like. What are you thinking in those moments?
SHELDON KEEFE: Once they got the third goal, obviously it’s pretty grim. You’re obviously in very tough. I was thinking about some of the great efforts that we’ve had here over the last number of days that I felt maybe we’re not going to be rewarded for it. I felt bad about that because I think we have had some individuals that have been really, really great through all of this. Then it turns, you get a bounce and it comes and all of a sudden you are rewarded for that and we’ve got new life as I’ve said. We’re really, really excited to play on Sunday.
AUSTON MATTHEWS & JASON SPEZZA
Q. (Kristen Shilton, TSN): What’s the moment like for you when you see that goal go in after coming back from a 3-0 deficit?
AUSTON MATTHEWS: I don’t really know what to really feel in the moment, to be honest. I think your mind just kind of goes blank and I think it’s a credit to every single guy on our team for just sticking with it, battling back and just not quitting down 3-0 with a couple minutes left. I think that’s a testament to each guy in this locker room and I think everybody should be extremely proud of each other.
Q. (Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun): Jason, you’ve been around this game a hell of a long time. Do you remember anything like that last four minutes? Anything comparable that you’ve been through?
JASON SPEZZA: No I’ve never been a part of anything like that. With the firepower we have with these guys, the way they can put the puck in the net, we’re never out of it and there’s a great sense of belief in our group and we stuck with it the whole way and got some big goals by some big players.
Q. (Josh Clipperton, The Canadian Press): This core has taken a lot of criticism the last few years. What did you guys show tonight?
AUSTON MATTHEWS: I think just resilience. I think you’re going to go through ups and downs here and I think we’ve definitely been through our share of ups and downs. I think that’s just kind of par for the course here. I think you just try to stick with it, focus on what we can control and focus on what we have in the locker and stick together and play as a team.
Q. (Luke Fox, Sportsnet): Jason, you don’t have very many fights in your career. What were your emotions coming into this game and what made you drop the gloves tonight?
JASON SPEZZA: Just trying to spark the guys. I think just trying to show some desperation and have some push back. Sometimes without the crowd you don’t have that so just trying to create some emotion and play the role that I’m in and just try to get everyone going. You’re just trying to do what you can do at this time of year.
Q. (Josh Clipperton, The Canadian Press): That moment on the tying goal, I think everybody in the building probably thought Auston was going to shoot it. Can you just take us through it?
ZACH HYMAN: Yeah, I rolled up the wall, I saw Auston in the middle and then it hit him. I thought he was going to shoot it too and then he came back to me and got it off my skate and just tried to throw it to the net. JT had a great screen and it went in. It was crazy.
Q. (Justin Cuthbert, Yahoo Sports): I’m curious what the mindset was for you and I guess you can only speak for yourself, but the entire team when it was so late and you guys were down 3-0. Were the negative thoughts, the thoughts about what happens next with you guys and bubble life and so on and so forth, did any of that creep in and how were you able to keep everything in check when it was down to the last few minutes there?
ZACH HYMAN: I think it’s natural that those thoughts start to creep in when they score the third goal but you just put your foot on the gas, keep going, it’s not over until the time runs out. Once you get that first one you’re only down two and then we got the second one pretty quick after that. The belief starts to grow. It grows, it grows and then you give yourself a chance. You keep putting pucks on the net and then we tied it up with 20 seconds there. Then Matts got the OT winner and we’ve got life. I think it’s an exhilarating win. We’ve got to temper our emotions and get back at it for game five.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (2-2) vs.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (2-2)
FRIDAY, AUGUST 7, 2020
ON THE SCORESHEET
- Auston Matthews registered the primary assist on Tavares’ third period goal and later had the primary assist on Hyman’s third period goal before scoring the overtime-winning goal on the power play at 13:10 of the extra frame. His three points in tonight’s game are a single-game high in the playoffs. The goal is his third career game-winner in the playoffs and first overtime winner in the playoffs. Matthews has assists (4) and points (2-4-6) in three consecutive games to lead the Maple Leafs in playoff scoring. He has 19 points (12 goals, 7 assists) in 24 career playoff games.
- William Nylander put the Maple Leafs on the board at 16:03 of the third period and later had the secondary assist on Zach Hyman’s third period goal. Nylander has goals (2) in two consecutive games and points (2-2-4) in three consecutive games. He has 15 points (5 goals, 10 assists) in 24 career playoff games.
- John Tavares scored Toronto’s second goal of the game at 16:54 of the third period and later registered the primary assist on Matthews’ overtime goal. Tonight’s game is his eighth career multi-point performance in the playoffs. Tavares has two goals and one assist in four games this series. He has 29 points (15 goals, 14 assists) in 35 career postseason games.
- Zach Hyman scored the third Maple Leafs goal of the night at 19:37 of the third period. Hyman’s goal is his first of the postseason. He has two points (1-1-2) in four games this postseason. He has 11 points (3-8-11) in 24 career playoff games.
- Mitch Marner had the secondary assist on Tavares’ third period goal and later had the secondary assist on Matthews’ overtime goal. Marner has assists (3) in two consecutive games. Tonight’s game is his sixth multi-point performance in the playoffs. He has 19 points (5 goals, 14 assists) in 24 career playoff games.
- Frederik Andersen stopped 36 shots to earn the victory.
SHOTS ON GOAL (5-on-5 in brackets)
|TORONTO||15 (12)||16 (11)||8 (4)||14 (13)||53 (40)|
|COLUMBUS||13 (13)||13 (6)||6 (5)||7 (7)||39 (31|
SHOT ATTEMPTS (5-on-5 in brackets)
|TORONTO||21 (18)||27 (21)||15 (9)||20 (19)||83 (67)|
|COLUMBUS||21 (21)||17 (9)||15 (9)||21 (21)||74 (60)|
- The Maple Leafs went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill and 1-for-4 on the power play tonight.
- Per NHL Stats, The Maple Leafs are the third team in NHL history to win a postseason game after overcoming a three-goal deficit in the final four minutes of regulation. Toronto joins Edmonton in Game 3 of the 1997 Conference Quarter-Final and Anaheim in Game 5 of the 2017 second round.
- Toronto recorded 53 shots on goal tonight, which is the fifth highest shot total by the Maple Leafs in franchise playoff history.
- Martin Marincin was the lone Maple Leaf to not start a 5-on-5 shift in the offensive zone.
- Morgan Rielly was on the ice for a team-high 36 Toronto shot attempts-for at 5-on-5. He finished the game with a 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage of 61.0 percent (36 for, 23 against).
- John Tavares won 64 percent (7 won, 4 lost) of his faceoffs against Columbus centre Boone Jenner.
MAPLE LEAFS LEADERS
|Shot Attempts||12 (Marner)|
|Faceoff Wins||12 (Tavares)|
|Faceoff Win Percentage||75% (Nylander – 6 won, 2 lost)|
|Hits||3 (Spezza, Tavares)|
|Blocked Shots||3 (Dermott, Matthews)|
|Takeaways||1 (Six players tied)|
|Power Play TOI||4:42 (Matthews, Tavares)|
|Shorthanded TOI||3:54 (Marincin)|
|5-on-5 Shot Attempt Percentage||76.0% (Clifford – 19 for, 6 against)|
- Sunday, August 9, TBD, Columbus at Toronto (TBD)
Stats reflect official NHL stats at the time of distribution. Please consult official NHL game sheets (links above) to confirm no statistical changes were made.