Jayson Tatum Drops 27 Points, Leads Celtics Past Shorthanded Raptors

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIMarch 5, 2021

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) hangs on the rim after dunking during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors, Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Charles Krupa/Associated Press

After a 4-8 stretch, the Boston Celtics will enter the All-Star break as winners of four straight.

The Celtics defeated the banged-up Toronto Raptors, 132-125 at home on Thursday. Jayson Tatum dropped 27 points for the Celtics, who improved to 19-17. 

The Raptors were down five players and seven coaches, including head coach Nick Nurse. Chris Boucher starred with 30 points off the bench while Norman Powell delivered again, this time with 25 points. 


Notable Performers

  • Jayson Tatum, Celtics: 27 PTS, 12 REB, 5 AST
  • Jaylen Brown, Celtics: 21 PTS, 7 REB, 4 AST
  • Norman Powell, Raptors: 25 PTS, 4 AST
  • Chris Boucher, Raptors: 30 PTS, 5 REB

Celtics Have More Than Just Two All-Stars

Based on the shorthanded Raptors' performance in Detroit, Thursday's game was a perfect stage for Tatum and Brown to highlight the skills that made them All-Star selections.

The tandem has led Boston's offense all season, with Tatum entering Thursday averaging 24.9 points and Brown responsible for 24.8 points per game. Kemba Walker hasn't been too far behind despite missing the start of the season with a knee injury, averaging 18.6 points per outing.

They'll be on opposite teams when the All-Star Game tips off Sunday, with Brown landing on Team LeBron and Tatum taking over a starting spot on Team Durant. But on Thursday, they were on the same side in the quest to lead Boston over the limited Raptors. 

In the first half, Walker was the one to control the scoring, with 15 points in the first two quarters, while Tatum was a playmaker with nine rebounds and six assists. 

Boston Celtics @celtics

8️⃣ 💪 https://t.co/vaVqz6YGRb

Boston Celtics @celtics

in there 🏀 https://t.co/fh0zz6PVlR


In the third quarter, Walker stepped back to allow Tatum to score 11 points. He ended the night with 27 points.

The Celtics bench also came alive, with five players combining to score 51 points. 

Brian Robb @BrianTRobb

The Celtics bench can't miss.


Boston's woes appear to be behind them—at least for now. With the return of Marcus Smart expected soon after from the break, their four-game winning streaks should be back as part of the norm, rather than massive stretches defined by losses and fourth-quarter collapses. 


Raptors Nearly Overcome Their Injury Report 

The Raptors entered Thursday night shorthanded as they attempted to play their way through their battle with the league's COVID-19 protocols. 

Toronto had two games postponed before they took the court against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday and the rust—combined with players who were sidelined due to the league's health and safety protocols—showed in a 129-105 blowout loss.

On Thursday, they faced a similar situation, with three of their five leading scorers out for the Celtics matchup. Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby were sidelined, limiting the starting lineup, while Malachi Flynn and Patrick McCaw would not be available off the bench.

But in the first half, there was little indication that anything was missing from the roster. Norman Powell, who dropped 36 points during Wednesday's loss to Detroit, picked up where he left off on Thursday, dropping a game-high 21 points in the first half. 

Keith Smith @KeithSmithNBA

I know some current and former NBA scouts that were not happy when their teams passed on Norman Powell in the draft and let him fall to the middle of the second round. He's going to get handsomely paid this summer.

Toronto Raptors @Raptors

The man is gettin' BUCKETS https://t.co/S5CbBf1ssD https://t.co/Hnm9qoiV3o


Behind him, both Chris Boucher (16 points) and Terence Davis (13 points) tallied double digits for the Raptors, who led 70-66 at the break.

Josh Lewenberg @JLew1050

8 Raptors have played, 8 Raptors have scored. They recorded 21 assists on 25 first-half buckets. Powell has 21 points, Boucher and Davis have 29 on 10-11 FG (!!) off the bench. Pretty much the opposite of what we saw last night. Undermanned Raps lead Celts 70-66 at the break.


Toronto managed to force nine turnovers on Boston by halftime, but they didn't capitalize. Instead, the Celtics used Toronto's five turnovers to create nine points. 

In the second half, Powell slowed, adding just four more points, but he had support behind him from Boucher and Davis, who combined to score 52 by the end of the night. 

Kyle Lowry, who ended the night with 14 points and 19 assists, made history in the outing: 

Josh Lewenberg @JLew1050

There it is. Career-high tying 18 assists for Kyle Lowry. Now he's 1 away from matching the Raptors' franchise record for most assists in a game, set by Jose Calderon (twice) and Damon Stoudamire.

Thursday's win highlighted the Raptors' depth, and if they're able to make use of that when their starters return, they'll improve upon their sub-.500 record from the break. 


What's Next? 

The All-Star break.

Both teams open the second half of the season on March 11, with the Celtics heading to Brooklyn to face the Nets and the Raptors hosting the Atlanta Hawks.