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NBA -- Celtics show fight, might as contenders


PhilBoxing.com




LOS ANGELES -- The Boston Celtics demonstrated the firepower befitting a legitimate title contender.

Jayson Tatum finished with 21 points and nine rebounds and all of Boston's starters chalked double-figures in points to easily handle the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of the Easter Conference Finals played inside the NBA bubble at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Buena Vista, Florida.

Kemba Walker added 18 and 10 assists and Marcus Smart tallied 21 for the No.3 seeded Celtics. Jaylen Brown pumped in 17 while center Daniel Theis accounted for 13 points and 15 boards.

Fresh off their four-game sweep of the Sixers in Round 1, the Cetlics didn't skip a beat, shooting 47 percent from the field and 43.6 percent from long distance. They started hot and hit their baskets early and often to take a 36-17 lead late in the first quarter.

The Raptors, the defending champs and this year's No.2 seed in the East, never recovered from the fiery barrage.

As impressive the win was, Celtics coach Brad Stevens cautioned that it's a long series, a race to win four out of seven.

"We're not even in the ballpark of doing that yet. We won one game," Stevens, who just signed a contract extension with Boston, told The Associated Press.

Boston, which finished the regular season at 48-24, is missing the services of Gordon Hayward, who is rehabbing from an injured ankle. But their performance in Game 1 showed that they have enough weapons to beat the championship savvy Raptors.

Kyle Lowry led Toronto with 17 points and six rebounds.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Ricardo Carbajal.


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