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.
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:
It was the rest of the team that stepped up, taking advantage of its opportunities from three-point range:
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:
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:
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:
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.
Pascal Siakam had just three points in the first half, picking up his third foul in the first quarter:
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.
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.
The Raptors will only have one day to regroup before Game 2 of the series scheduled for Tuesday.