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)

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

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said growing COVID-19 case numbers continue to be a concern in the province. (Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta announces 1,077 new COVID-19 cases Thursday

There are currently 14,052 active cases in the province

Bids for Kids poster
Wolf Creek Youth Foundation online auction gets ‘overwhelming’ response

Santa’s Bids for Kids auction to benefit youth programs in Ponoka and Rimbey

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the 500 deaths from COVID-19 in the province are a tragic milestone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta hits ‘tragic milestone’ with more COVID-19 deaths

Province up to 500 COVID-19 deaths, adds 1,265 cases

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Town Council asks for a mask bylaw to be brought forward for consideration

The bylaw would require face coverings in all indoor Town-owned and operated facilities

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

People wear face masks as they pose next to a Christmas display in Montreal, Sunday, November 22, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
How to tell family their Christmas gathering is too risky and you’re not going

Dr. Hurst says it’s best to frame the conversation from a place of care, stressing safety precautions.

A sign instructs people to wear masks in downtown Calgary on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. Pub and restaurant owners are trying to figure out how to comply with a stricter COVID-19 measure in Alberta that dictates only six people from the same household can sit at one table. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Brewpub owner pleased Alberta not closing sit-down dining as COVID-19 cases soar

Alberta’s caseload of COVID-19 infections has been growing for weeks

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

Canada has spent more than $1 billion to pre-order seven different developing COVID-19 vaccines

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at B.C. campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

A pedestrian wears masks while out walking in front of the Alberta Legislature as the COVID-19 numbers spike in Edmonton on Tuesday November 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Doctor says Alberta restrictions not enough to reduceCOVID-19 strain on hospitals

Mithani notes people are still allowed to gather indoors at large places of worship and in bars,

Most Read