With less than a second left in Game 3, it looked like the Toronto Raptors would go down 3-0 in their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Boston Celtics. After their 100-93 victory Saturday night, they have pulled even and look like a team that feels like it can advance. The Celtics will need to regroup after a sloppy second half after forging a tie at halftime.
Once again, Boston lost the turnover battle, this time 14-12, as Toronto got balanced production, putting five players in double figures in scoring, despite falling just short of 40% shooting for the game. Despite shooting 44%, outrebounding the Raptors 45-41, and going to the free-throw line eight more times than their opponents, the Celtics couldn’t muster a run to sustain a lead in the second half.
The Raptors entered Game 4 as slim one-point favorites, and the over/under was an inexplicable 213.5, despite the two teams combining for an average of less than 205 points a game. Game 4 ended up as the lowest-scoring game of the series, with the low shooting percentages contributing to low offensive output.
According to Caesars Casino and Sportsbook, the Celtics are the favorites for Game 5, currently at -1.0, with both teams paying -110 against the spread. The moneyline is paying -120 for Boston, while Toronto is getting +120 odds for a win.
The over/under is at 212 despite the teams averaging less than 202 points per game. Either the oddsmakers know something we don’t, or they’re just trying to balance the bets on either side of the line.
The four games played in the series provide a pretty good sample size to predict how Game 5 might develop. There have been two close games, with the Celtics winning one by three points and the Raptors taking the other by a single point after that miracle 3-pointer in Game 3. Both teams have more comfortable victories, the Celtics in an 18 point blowout in Game 1 and the Raptors by seven in Game 4.
Except for the end of Game 3 and the fourth quarter of Game 4, the Celtics have mostly outplayed the Raptors. Kyle Lowry was all over the floor in Game 4, taking charges and causing a lot of disruption to the Celtics offensive efforts. For the Celtics, the decrease in scoring balance continued, with only three players in double figures in scoring for Game 4.
Unless something drastically changes, it’s unlikely that these two teams combine for 212 points. Both are playing tenacious defense, and every possession is hard-fought throughout the 24-second shot clock.
If that continues, we can expect another tight game, possibly going down to the wire, as both Games 2 and 3 did. For the series, Boston has been more dominant at times, especially when Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are contributing.
In Game 4, Brown was only 2-for-7 from two-point range and 2-for-11 from beyond the three-point arc on his way to a disappointing 14 points. As a team, the Celtics hit on just 7-of-35 from three-point range, a performance that will have to improve if they want to gain the advantage in the series. The over/under line indicates that at least a few people think they can turn it around.
For the Raptors, they would like nothing more than a repeat of Game 4. They played good defense and forced the Celtics into bad shots, especially from long range.
Kyle Lowry needs to play energetically and lead Toronto both offensively and defensively, giving the defending champs an excellent chance to get to within a game of the Eastern Conference Finals.