The Raptors played a full 53 minutes of basketball tonight, but all we'll remember is the final 2.6 seconds. Against the Boston Celtics, Toronto was again outworked for much of the game. The second and third quarters saw their defense falter and their offense out of sorts. Boston, very much playing for their playoff lives, had the energy; fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how much anguish your heart can take), the Raptors still had their pride. They came back in the fourth, forced overtime, and set the stage for those final 2.6 seconds.
"It's not really fast, it's really slow," said DeMar DeRozan of those final moments, his brilliant game undone in a flash. It was DeRozan's 38 points on 14-for-25 shooting (including 10-for-12 from the line) that kept the Raptors competitive. The Celtics had no answer for his inside-out game and by the end it was automatic: get the ball to number ten and get the hell out of the way. Whatever doubts we may have had about DeRozan appear to have evaporated as of late.
To get a close game of course, you need participants on the other side. For the Celtics, it was the names you'd expect: Isaiah Thomas carved up the Raps' subpar perimeter D, Evan Turner made a series of circus layups when Boston needed them, and on that final play it was Marcus Smart in the right place at the right time to put the game away. Meanwhile Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk did their best to wage war against the Raptors depleted front line (even a gimpy Amir Johnson would have made a difference). Despite an astounding perfect game from Tyler Hansbrough (18 March Madness-fueled points) and a solid double-double by Jonas Valanciunas, it wasn't enough. Those 2.6 seconds still loomed.
"It feel like forever," said DeRozan. "Lot of time in that situation when it's two, three, four, five seconds, that's the longest two, three, four, five seconds of your life." Watching it play out from the stands, it feels hard to agree. After watching Jared Sullinger dribble to nowhere for 1.4 seconds, Celtics coach Brad Stevens called the timeout to set the stage. It felt impossible that all those things could happen in 2.6 seconds - Thomas careening down the lane, the ball stopped, blocked, bobbled, passed to Smart. Lay-up. Ball game. The longest seconds of your life, DeMar?
"Especially when you gotta get a stop."
What did you guys think of the game?
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