Shorthanded Celtics Hold off Raptors, Wrap Up No. 2 Seed In East Playoffs
BY KYLE HIGHTOWER
BOSTON (AP) — Malcolm Brogdon scored 29 points and hit two late free throws to help the Boston Celtics hold on for a 97-93 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.
With Milwaukee’s win over Chicago, Boston (55-25) secured the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Jaylen Brown added 25 points and 11 rebounds. Derrick White finished with 17 points in the opener of a two-game series. The teams meet again Friday in Boston.
A night after their two-point loss at Philadelphia, the Celtics played without three starters. All-Star Jayson Tatum (bruised left hip), Marcus Smart (neck spasms) and Al Horford (back stiffness) all got the night off on the second night of the back-to-back.
The Raptors (40-40) fell a game behind eighth-place Atlanta (41-39) in the standings. Pascal Siakam had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Scottie Barnes added 18 points and eight rebounds.
Toronto went just 6 of 33 from beyond the arc. Boston didn’t shoot much better (11 of 38).
Siakam scored 14 straight for Toronto to help the Raptors trim what had been a 13-point deficit to 74-72 late in the third quarter.
Brogdon scored the final five points of the period to give Boston a seven-point cushion heading into the fourth.
Toronto kept chipping away and used an 8-1 run to tie the game at 82, before the Celtics responded with five straight points.
A dunk by Precious Achiuwa got Toronto within 89-86. Boston answered again, this time with a 6-2 spurt to get it back to six with a minute to play.
Boston ran the clock down, but Brogdon’s turnover led to a Raptors fast break and dunk by Achiuwa, who was fouled. He completed the three-point play to make it 95-93 with 12.6 seconds left.
Brogdon was fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass and hit both free throws.
Raptors: Went 2 for 18 from 3-point line in the first half. … Siakam had 12 first-quarter points, but was held scoreless in the second quarter.
Celtics: Brown was awarded the Red Auerbach Award, given annually by the franchise to the player who “best exemplifies the spirit and meaning of what it means to be a Boston Celtic.”