Jayson Tatum, Celtics Cruise to Dominant Game 1 Win over Kyle Lowry, Raptors

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistAugust 30, 2020

Boston Celtics' Kemba Walker (8) moves the ball against Toronto Raptors' Fred VanVleet (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball conference semifinal playoff game Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

The Boston Celtics sent a message to kick off the Eastern Conference semifinals, earning a 112-94 Game 1 win over the Toronto Raptors.  

Jayson Tatum scored 21, but it was an impressive teamwide effort from a squad that seemingly couldn't miss on the way to a 17-point halftime lead. The Celtics kept the pressure on and shot 17-of-39 from three-point range as a team to pull away for a convincing win where they never trailed.

The Raptors had significant issues offensively, shooting 36.9 percent from the field while stars Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet both struggled with their shooting. It prevented any comeback opportunity for the defending NBA champions.

Though both teams earned sweeps in the first round, Boston was more prepared for the start of Round 2.


Notable Performances

Jayson Tatum, PF, BOS: 21 points, 9 rebounds

Kemba Walker, PG, BOS: 18 points, 10 assists

Marcus Smart, SG, BOS: 21 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists

Kyle Lowry, PG, TOR: 17 points, 8 assists

Pascal Siakam, SF, TOR: 13 points, 3 rebounds

Serge Ibaka, PF, TOR: 15 points, 9 rebounds


Role Players Step Up for Celtics

Jayson Tatum got his points, but he wasn't the prime reason for the Celtics' success in this one. In fact, Boston was at its best without him Sunday, especially early:

Jay King @ByJayKing

If you told me Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown would be a combined 8 for 24 at halftime, I would have thought the Celtics would be in a world of pain. Instead, they're up 17. Raptors just 5 for 24 from deep, are probably due to make a few.

Brian Robb @BrianTRobb

Underrated part of first half for Celtics: Their biggest run of the game (14-2 midway through the first quarter) came with Jayson Tatum on the bench. Tatum's been a plus/minus monster all year so any success without him is huge.

It was the rest of the team that stepped up, taking advantage of its opportunities from three-point range:

ESPN @espn

The Celtics got hot from 3 in the first quarter 💥 https://t.co/TjDIO0TXl0

Kemba Walker was in complete control of the game, finishing with with a double-double while his team was plus-25 when he was on the court, adding a highlight just before halftime:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Cardiac. Kemba. (via @NBATV) https://t.co/DIc4qA20Ke

Marcus Smart also did his job on both ends, adding five three-pointers.

However, the biggest help in this one came from the frontcourt with Daniel Theis and Robert Williams each putting together impactful showings:


Marcus Smart swipe. Robert Williams III windmill! #NBAPlayoffs on ESPN https://t.co/YfuN12jPBO


Robert Williams III rolls and throws it down hard for the @celtics! #WholeNewGame #NBAPlayoffs on ESPN https://t.co/pyf4zOan9r

Boston Celtics @celtics

.@dtheis10 to the hoop 💪 https://t.co/HpICbNpxKZ

Theis finished had 13 points and 15 rebounds while Williams finished with 10 points, five rebounds and two blocks giving the team a much-needed boost from the center position.

Of course, Tatum still impressed when he had the chance:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Tatum's game is too smooth. Cold. (via @celtics) https://t.co/Wgoau8fiy1

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

One leg, falling away to beat the buzzer. Just unfair. (via @NBA) https://t.co/ZHlceG0b3o

It could make the Celtics very difficult to beat going forward.


Raptors Struggle on Both Ends in Forgettable Game

There weren't a lot of positive takeaways for the Raptors, who fell behind early with just about everything going wrong.

J.E. Skeets @jeskeets

Good to know that when the Raptors play the absolute worst quarter of basketball imaginable they’ll ONLY be down 16 points. Duly noted. 😬

Bruce Arthur @bruce_arthur

Siakam three fouls, Gasol two fouls, the offence has to really work to get clean looks, the defence has blown open a few times, they've missed layups, Kyle looks like he's forcing a little, and the Celtics are gunning. Other than that, though

Brad Fay @SNBradFay

Siakam, Van Vleet and Powell a combined 3-for-22 from the floor. Likely not the formula for the #Raptors

Tim Bontemps @TimBontemps

The Raptors are 5-for-23 from 3-point range and 12-for-42 overall. Good number of those looks were clean, open ones, too. Toronto's halfcourt offense has been a nagging issue, and it certainly is rearing its head right now.

Pascal Siakam had just three points in the first half, picking up his third foul in the first quarter:

Boston Celtics @celtics

AND-ONE 😤 https://t.co/baUyqK0Akj

This seemed to deflate the Raptors, who were unable to sustain their runs and cut down the lead.

Serge Ibaka continued his high level of play with 15 points and nine boards.

Toronto Raptors @Raptors

Original man comin' thru! https://t.co/u14IjoRxxO

However, the veteran also showed his frustration while picking up a flagrant foul in the fourth quarter.

Kyle Lowry was effective on the court, but it wasn't enough to overcome the shooting problems from the rest of the offense.

Defensively, the Celtics continually had wide-open shots regardless of what type of defense Nick Nurse called for throughout the day.

It was only one game, but the Raptors have to make significant changes in order to turn around this series.


What's Next?

The Raptors will only have one day to regroup before Game 2 of the series scheduled for Tuesday.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.