The Eastern Conference Semifinals are now a best-of-3.
After a thrilling Game 3 victory, the Toronto Raptors have tied their series with the Boston Celtics at two games apiece with a 100-93 win in Game 4.
Pascal Siakam led the way with 23 points and 11 rebounds while Kyle Lowry used a big fourth quarter to finish with 22 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists while making plenty of winning plays.
For the Celtics, it was Jayson Tatum that led the way with 24 points but as a whole, the team struggled to get going from deep.
For more on how it went down, here are some thoughts from the game:
1. Lowry sets the tone early and often
If you expected Kyle Lowry to come out the gate slow after playing 46 minutes in Game 2, you must not be familiar with Kyle Lowry.
Toronto's All-Star point guard was on a mission in the opening frame, scoring 11 points in the first quarter thanks largely in part to his aggression. While he was just 2-for-5 from the field in the first, he was a mainstay at the line, attacking the rim to go 6-for-6 from the charity stripe.
5 mins. 11 pts.- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) September 5, 2020
KLow's ballin' early pic.twitter.com/dsrhFl1kZe
The result? The Raptors had their best first quarter of the series, taking a 31-27 lead into the second.
Lowry would go on to finish with 22 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists and, of course, drew a number of offensive fouls and made countless hustle plays throughout the night.
KYLE LOWRY WANTS IT pic.twitter.com/dBe6dHBPot- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) September 6, 2020
He is, without a doubt, the heart and soul of this team.
2. Pascal's persistent
The noise surrounding Pascal Siakam's performance this postseason has seemingly gotten louder and louder as time has gone on.
His team has maintained confidence in him and in Game 4 his aggression was on full display as he got up plenty of shots.
Like, a lot of them.
Siakam finished the night with a team-high 23 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 10-for-23 from the field and 2-for-13 from deep. That he only shot 15.4% from 3-point range isn't ideal, but the fact that he continued to look for his shot speaks volumes about where his head is in spite of all the unnecessary noise.
Zero hesitation 🌶️ pic.twitter.com/zGBM4AGh4h- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) September 5, 2020
Pascal's persistence suggests that there will be yet another breakthrough for him as a scorer in this series.
3. Tatum looked like himself again
After a poor showing in Game 3, Jayson Tatum was back closer to his All-Star form in Game 4.
He finished with a game-high 24 on 10-for-18 shooting and again, showed flashes of what makes him so special as a player.
Like this smooth spin move on the baseline…
Tatum spins in for the slam!#NBAPlayoffs on TNT pic.twitter.com/MpTTp6Dm6z- NBA (@NBA) September 5, 2020
And a pair of nice passes to Semi Ojeleye in the second frame. One of which led to an and-one, the other leading to a corner triple…
SEMI 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/DkFijFtv5E- Boston Celtics (@celtics) September 5, 2020
He had a crucial and-one on a putback late but was then whistled for an offensive foul drawn by none other than Lowry with under a minute remaining. Tatum has to be the best player on the floor in order for the C's to win the series, and he was much closer to being that in Game 4 than he was in Game 3.
4. Ibaka bounces back
After a strong start to the series, Serge Ibaka had a rough go in Game 3, finishing with just two points in 22 minutes of action.
Game 4 saw Ibaka bounce back.
In the first half, the 11-year vet scored 11 points, pulled down five rebounds and turned back the clock to deny Daniel Theis at the rim.
Let 'em know, @sergeibaka pic.twitter.com/vk0ue3mOz6- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) September 5, 2020
Serge finished the game with 18 points and seven rebounds while shooting 7-for-9 from the field and a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. Every single point was needed from him in this one.
5. The 3-ball
Sometimes you live by it, sometimes you die by it. It's been the story of the series.
In Game 1, Boston outscored Toronto by 21 from deep. Game 2 saw Marcus Smart become Steph Curry. Game 3 ended with OG Anunoby's game-winning triple.
Fittingly, there was a significant difference in Game 4.
Fred VanVleet (5-for-11), Lowry (4-for-10) and Ibaka (4-for-4) combined to hit 13 triples at a 52% clip. For the game, the Raptors shot 17-for-44 (38.6%) from beyond the arc, while the Celtics shot just 7-for-35 (20%) from deep, good for a 51-21 difference.
Yeah, that's significant.
6. It was a night to forget for Jaylen Brown
Game 4 was a struggle for Jaylen Brown, to say the least.
Brown, who has looked like every bit of a two-way star in the series so far just couldn't get going early on, missing his first nine 3-point attempts.
At one point in the fourth quarter, Lowry dared Brown to shoot on a possession in which he missed two triples.
He didn't hit his first 3 of the night until there was under six minutes to go. For the game, Brown scored 14 points and pulled down six rebounds but shot just 4-for-18 (22.2%) from the field and 2-for-11 (18.2%) from beyond the arc.
Expect Brown to be the one looking to bounce back in Game 5.
7. Recent history favours Toronto
Dating back to the first round of last year, the Raptors have now won six consecutive Game 4s.
Raptors in Game 4's since 2019- Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) September 6, 2020
OPP PPG 98.3
FG PCT 47.3%
3-PT PCT 43.5%
OPP 3-PT PCT 29.4%#WeTheNorth or #WeTheFourth
Even more of a positive sign for Toronto? It has won four straight series that were tied at two games apiece.
Raptors have won 4 straight series when tied 2-2- Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) September 6, 2020
Will this be the 5th?#WeTheNorth
Will that trend continue? We'll see.
8. What's next?
These teams are back in action for a pivotal Game 5 on Monday, Sept. 7 at 6:30 ET on TSN.
See you then.
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