Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum (0) drives against Toronto Raptors’ Pascal Siakam during the second half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Unlucky 7: Raptors eliminated from NBA playoffs after 92-87 loss to Celtics

Toronto sees run as league champs come to an end

The Toronto Raptors’ season is over, the defending NBA champions done in by turnovers.

Jayson Tatum had 29 points while Jaylen Brown added 21 and the Boston Celtics beat Toronto 92-87 on Friday night to take the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal 4-3.

The Celtics move on to face the Miami Heat in the conference finals, while the Raptors head into an off-season of uncertainty unlike any other.

Fred VanVleet had 20 points, while Kyle Lowry 16 points, and Serge Ibaka finished with 14 off the bench for the Raptors.

It was yet another rough offensive night for Pascal Siakam, who led the NBA in scoring this season before the league shuttered on March 11 due to COVID-19. He played like a shadow of himself after the restart, and had 13 points and 11 rebounds in the decisive loss.

Norman Powell chipped in with 11 points for Toronto.

But the Raptors played like the ball was slathered in butter, committing an uncharacteristic 18 turnovers. Those turnovers led to 31 points for the Celtics.

Boston had Toronto’s number for most of the season, winning three of four meetings in the regular season to set up what was expected to be a hard-fought series. The seven-game slugfest — between division rivals who somehow had never met in the playoffs — didn’t disappoint.

Game 7, appropriately, was a see-saw battle, the lead changing hands 11 times before the Celtics took a 72-71 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Celtics opened the fourth with a 7-0 run punctuated by a horrible turnover by Siakam, who’s struggled mightily since the league restarted. A running dunk by Brown had Boston up by eight barely two minutes into the quarter.

A VanVleet deep three and Siakam’s tap-in pulled Toronto to within four, but then the Raptors unravelled due to turnovers. A pair of Tatum free throws stretched Boston’s advantage to 10 points with 4:51 to play.

A Siakam free throw and finger roll by Lowry pulled Toronto to within four with 1:55 remaining.

A pair of Lowry free throws made it a two-point game but the Raptors’ six-time all-star, who played brilliantly through the series, fouled out of the game with 35.4 seconds left.

Grant Williams missed two free throws, then VanVleet air-balled a three-point attempt with 12 seconds left, and it was game over for Toronto.

It was the Raptors’ first Game 7 appearance since Kawhi Leonard’s buzzer-beater against Philadelphia lifted Toronto into last season’s conference finals.

Boston won Games 1, 2 and 5. Anunoby’s jaw-dropping buzzer-beater to end Game 3 salvaged the series for the Raptors, who went on to take Game 6 in double overtime.

After Leonard bolted for the L.A. Clippers last summer, virtually no one picked the Raptors to go this far. But, despite a slew of injuries, they finished second in the Eastern Conference, rebounding from the league’s four-month pause for COVID-19 to pick up where they left off in the Disney World bubble.

Now the Raptors head into an off-season of uncertainty. While every post-season break comes with free agency questions, the immediate future of the league is ambiguous right now. While the NBA hopes the 2020-21 regular season can start in December, the coronavirus could wreak havoc with next season as well.

READ MORE: On to Game 7: Raptors hold off Celtics in double-OT NBA thriller

Friday’s national anthem was a nostalgic contrast to the fanless arena at Walt Disney World, a reminder of last season’s Canada-wide celebration during Toronto’s historic Larry O’Brien Trophy run. “O’ Canada” was actually footage from Game 5 of last year’s NBA Finals, when Toronto opera singer Doug Tranquada led a noisy Scotiabank Arena crowd in a stirring performance.

The Raptors, who had won their previous three Game 7 appearances, came out flat and trailed by 12 points early. But Nurse went to his bench quickly, sparking a 20-4 run capped by a VanVleet three, and Toronto took a 27-26 lead into the second quarter.

The Raptors started to rush their offence in the second, turning the ball over seven times for 13 Boston points. The Celtics had a 15-2 run that turned Toronto’s seven-point lead turned into a six-point deficit, and the Raptors went into the halftime break trailing 50-46.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

basketballNBAToronto

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

NDP candidate Babchuk a fixture in local politics since 2005

School trustee, city councillor and regional district chair sets sights on being North Island MLA

Sointula elementary school gets funding for new playground

Funding for the new playground comes from the provincial government’s Playground Equipment Program.

Facey nominated as BC Liberal candidate for the North Island riding

Liberal candidate Norm Facey has a background in forestry and manufacturing.

Some north Island forest service roads to get a minor facelift with COVID-19 recovery funding

Side Bay access road no longer ‘up in the bureaucratic air’ thanks to temporary budget increase

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

Victoria-area RCMP locate high-risk sex offender thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Most Read