Kyle Lowry scored 30 points, Serge Ibaka scored 20, and the Toronto Raptors beat Boston 113-97 on Saturday night by replaying the Celtics series of victories in five games.
Kemba Walker led the Celtics with 30 points, and Jaylen Brown – 17 after he first received 30-point games in his career. Brown made a career high 34 in a win over Cleveland on Friday.
Playing his first game since losing the Celtics on Wednesday 16, Canada’s first NBA game on Christmas Wednesday, the Raptors have never lagged behind a losing two-game series.
Toronto was left without two of the four top scorers due to injuries – Pascal Siacam (groin) and Norman Powell (subluxation of the left shoulder). Siam leads the team with 25.1 points per game, and Powell averages 14.4.
They also lacked the center of Mark Gasol (left hamstring). All three were injured in one game, a December 18 victory in Detroit.
The Celtics used the 10-0 spree to cut the deficit by 13 points to 70-67 halfway into the third quarter, but the Predators – as they did all night when Boston made the charge – responded with a quick jerk of 8-0 this was emphasized in consecutive 3 s from McCaw and VanVleet.
Predators also reduced lead by 12 points to five at the end of the third.
Toronto led by 10 after the third and Boston never threatened in the fourth.
McCaw's 3-pointer made him 109-92.
Predators: This was the fifth consecutive game in which the trio of Siacama, Powell, and Gasol was limited. They shot 71.4 percent (15 of 21) in the first quarter and led by 11 at half-time. Losing Toronto at Christmas was the team's first away victory in 13 attempts.
Celtics: Guard Markus Smart returned after missing eight games with an eye infection that spread to both eyes. He had not played since December 6 and received loud applause when he entered the middle of the first quarter. He scored seven points in 23 minutes.
Smart hit 3 from the top of the key in the horn at the end of the first quarter, and Walker hit one from above, closing the second.
Predator coach Nick Nurs talked about fighting his team without some key players in the last few games.
“We had moments of rise and fall,” he said. “I think that was the hardest part – the sequence. We have seen this even in the same games. We looked amazing after eight or 10 minutes, and then we look like we can’t do anything right in three or four minutes.
This is news to me.
When Boston coach Brad Stevens was asked that his team was the best NBA rebuilding club for a month, he paused and said: “Us? Shocker. "
He had no explanation of statistics.
“I don’t know, the ball bounced in our direction, I think,” he said. “We haven't changed anything on either side of the floor.”