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

Despite pandemic challenges, the Castor Golf Course has some reasons to celebrate their 2020 season

Projects in 2020 include renovations to the club house kitchen and repairs to the roof from last year’s hailstorm

Local author Eleanor Bertin thrilled to mark latest novel release

Bertin joins other authors J.L. Cole and Crystal Stewart for a book signing at Stettler’s Sweet Home on Main on Oct. 3rd

160 new COVID-19 cases reported in Alberta on Tuesday

Province now has 1,571 active cases

MP Damien Kurek said the recent Throne Speech lacked direction, leadership and clarity

‘It was vague, it was expensive and it’s very intrusive into provincial jurisdiction.’

No safe mask option for bearded members, RCMP says, but force is exploring solutions

RCMP says respirator not mandatory in all front-line situations, but sometimes needed to reduce risk

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

CP Holiday Train cancelled this year; virtual concert to be held in lieu of event

Canadian Pacific will still donate to local food banks in its network and host a virtual concert.

Survey finds doctors worry supplies of flu vaccine, PPE will lag demand

Canadian health officials have said additional flu vaccines have been ordered to meet expected demand

Ahead of likely second wave, 60% of Canadians relaxing COVID-19 measures

Proportion of Canadians following safety measures has dropped by 3 per cent in the past two weeks

Canada’s population tops 38 million, even as COVID-19 pandemic slows growth

Immigration, the top population driver, decreased due to the pandemic

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

Liberals seek to fast track new COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires

Government secured NDP support for legislation by hiking amount of benefits by $100 to $500 per week

Most Read