Saturday, April 8, 2023

Celtics 121, Raptors 102: Sam Hauser notches career-high 26 to lead short-handed C's past Toronto

The Celtics got a huge boost from their bench to top the Toronto Raptors 121-102 Friday night at TD Garden to sweep the season series 4-0 for the first time since the 2009-10 campaign.

Sam Hauser, who started in place of Jaylen Brown (finger laceration), notched a career-high 26 points on 10-of-16 from the field -- including three dunks -- and hit 6-of-12 from behind the arc, while Payton Pritchard added 22 (4-of-8 from 3), five assists off the bench.
"It's just a testament to how hard he's worked this offseason and this season to be prepared for moments like this," Jayson Tatum said in his postgame presser of Hauser. "He wants to go out there and produce and we trust him to."
Tatum scored all of his 21 points (7-of-12 from the floor) in the first half and did not play the final two quarters. Derrick White chipped in 12 points, 10 assists and Mike Muscala recorded 11 points, seven rebounds for the Celtics -- who improved to 56-25 with one game left to play.

Boston was also without Marcus Smart (neck) and Malcolm Brogdon (lower back) after securing the second seed following their 97-93 win over the Raptors on Wednesday.

Pascal Siakam finished with 19 points, Precious Achiuwa had 16 points, seven rebounds and Fred VanVleet added 12 points, eight assists for the Raptors -- who fell to 40-41 and have clinched the ninth spot for the play-in tournament in the East. They'll face the 10th place Chicago Bulls next Wednesday at home.

The Celtics held Toronto to 2-of-11 shooting to start the night, before going up 24-7 that turned into a 36-17 advantage and Tatum netting 15 points to end the first quarter.

The lead was as much as 36 in the second period, as the C's connected on 60% of their shot attempts and registered 20 assists to take a 68-40 advantage at the break -- limiting the Raptors to just 30% from the field overall in the first half.

Boston seemed like they are already in playoff mode, as they await the winner of the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat play-in game for the seventh seed in the East.
"Experience is the best teacher. And this group, the last two years, we've been through a lot," Tatum said. "We've accomplished a lot and we've failed. And we've failed together. Essentially, we've worked all off season and all preseason and had a great regular season…to get back to this point, to get back to the playoffs. To get another opportunity. Another shot."
Meanwhile, the Celtics host the Hawks (41-40) in their regular season finale Sunday afternoon. ESPN has the tip-off at 1:00 ET.

Game Notes:

Boston was 55.6% from the field, including 15-of-44 (34.1%) from 3-point territory, while the Raptors were 43% from the floor and 9-of-31 (29%) from long distance. The Celtics out-rebounded Toronto 53-35 and both teams finished with 56 points in the paint each. The C's handed out 37 assists (21 turnovers) on 45 baskets to the visiting team's 21 dimes on 40 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of The Associated Press

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