By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- Did a good night's sleep calm you down a bit from that epic Celtics-Raptors Game 2? Good, cause we're gonna get you all riled up again.
But it's worth revisiting Tuesday night's 102-99 Celtics win at least one more time before we file it away with the rest of the franchise's historic collection of playoff victories. The Celtics trailed by double-digits late in the third quarter against the defending NBA champs, but put together a fourth quarter for the ages to take a 2-0 series lead and improve to a perfect 6-0 in the playoffs. Boston outscored Toronto 32-12 over the final 12 minutes in Game 2, hanging on late for an exhilarating triumph over the Raptors.
Their work is far from done, but with the way this team has played since the playoffs tipped off inside the NBA bubble, it's impossible not to feel great about these Celtics.
The Celtics have a handful of players who can beat you, and who that player is can change on any give night. Heck, in Tuesday's game, it changed quarter-to-quarter. This Boston squad is a t-e-a-m team, with everyone willing to do whatever it takes to win, even if it means sacrificing personal stats for the greater good.
It's super cliche, but it's a fact.
"Even when you're not hitting shots we encourage guys to find a way to contribute to us winning, whether it's defense, rebounding," Jayson Tatum said after a 34-point showing against Toronto. "All we care about is winning."
Tatum led the way scoring-wise, but several Celtics had their fingerprints all over Tuesday night's win. Here's a look back at all the big performances in Boston's Game 2 win.
We start with Tatum because, well, everything starts with Tatum. He dropped a new playoff career-high 34 points on 8-for-17 shooting, besting his 33-point performance in Game 2 against the 76ers last round. He is now the first Celtics player to notch three 30-point playoff games before his 24th birthday. It sees like he makes Celtics history every few weeks.
With the rest of his teammates struggling in the third quarter Tuesday night, Tatum scored 13 points to keep Boston afloat. He did most of his damage at the free throw line, putting his head down and attacking the Toronto defense when the team reached the limit. He hit all eight of his freebies in the third, and all 14 of them for the game.
Tatum also pulled down eight rebounds and dished out six assists. Stud.
It should be mentioned that Tatum was hit with what could have been a costly technical late in the game, punching the air in anger over an offensive foul charge. He knows that is going to get him T'd every time, because.... well because his name isn't LeBron or Giannis. But he took full responsibility after the game, and it will have much better composure the next time.
Tatum is the team's alpha, a young star who became an All-Star during the regular season and is now continuing his rise to becoming a superstar. And in case you forgot, he is only 22. But Tatum is not alone.
Smart was having a terrible shooting night heading into the fourth quarter. But we've come to learn that even if he's ice cold for 36 minutes, all it takes is one make to get Smart hot.
That game-changing make came from downtown with 11 minutes to go. Then Smart hit another one 36 seconds later, and another 37 seconds after that. All of a sudden an eight-point deficit was a one-point deficit for Boston -- and Smart wasn't done.
He answered a pair of Norman Powell free throws with another three, and then an OG Anunoby three-point play with a four-point play. Only Marcus Smart, right?
The freebie after his fifth straight three-pointer gave Boston an 86-85 lead with 7:55 to go. Toronto led for just 17 seconds the rest of the way, though they certainly made it interesting until the next guy stepped up big.
Like Smart, Walker was stuck in a freezer to start the game. He had hit just two of his 14 shots and none of his seven threes heading into the fourth quarter. It wasn't pretty.
But Walker woke up after Smart's barrage. He had 11 points in the fourth quarter, including one of his patented stepbacks that has been making big men look silly since Walker's days at UConn. This one came with 41.6 seconds on the clock, and provided the final points of Boston's victory.
It's such a deadly move because it looks like Walker is about to bolt for the basket. Instead, he steps back and tears out the heart of his defender.
Walker hit just one of his eight threes on Tuesday, but that one was a big make, giving the Celtics a 100-94 lead with 2:24 left. He's called Cardiac Kemba for a reason, after all.
Smart and Walker combined for 27 points on 9-for-10 shooting in the fourth.
But maybe the best part about Walker is what he has to say after the game. After every game for that matter. He is so happy to be in Boston, and to have teammates like Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart. That is never lost on Walker.
"I haven't been in the second round and a lot of times in my career in games like that, it probably would have been a blowout. For me to have these guys who can step up and make huge plays, it's special," he said. "It's a great feeling to know guys have my back like that. I just really appreciate my teammates."
Here is where some may bring up the toxic nature of last year's disappointing Celtics team, and what likely caused that toxicity, but we're not going to do that. Let's just watch Kemba's stepback again instead:
The lore of "Time Lord" continues to grow every time he steps on the floor. The Celtics were stuck in neutral in the first quarter, down 17-9 after a 9-0 Toronto run, until Williams changed everything.
Toronto missed four of their next five shots, while Williams casually threw down some dunks on offense. His loudest bucket came when he went flying in to put back a Walker miss to pull the Celtics within one:
He closed the quarter with a deep jumper with just a few seconds on the clock to tie the game at 28-28. He scored 10 points for the C's, helping the team erase an eight-point deficit.
Williams finished with a career-high 11 points on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting. He pulled down four rebounds, including two on the offensive end that led to four easy points, and blocked a shot. Unfortunately, his slip after the Walker put-back appeared to aggravate his back, as he left for the locker room and was sporting a giant pack of ice when he was on the Boston bench. He played just 18 minutes, sitting out the final 15 minutes of the game.
But Williams changed everything in the first quarter, and if he's healthy, he should continue to make an impact in spurts for the rest of the series. Through two games against the Raptors, Williams has scored 21 points on a perfect 10-for-10 shooting, giving Boston a much different animal in the paint than starting big man Daniel Theis.
Thanks to a balanced attack by those four particular players, the Celtics find themselves up 2-0 on the Raptors.
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