The Boston Celtics took round two of their four-round regular season fight with the Toronto Raptors on Friday with a 123-116 victory in overtime.
Kyrie Irving led the way with a game-high 43 points and 11 assists. It's the first time Irving has gone for 40-plus points and 10-plus assists in his career. The last Celtic player to go for 43-plus points and 11-plus assists was Antoine Walker, who scored 43 points and dished out 13 assists in a game against the Sacramento Kings in 2001.
Kawhi Leonard led the way for the Raptors with 31 points on 11-for-25 shooting from the floor.
The season series is now tied at 1-1 with the next game set for Jan. 16, 2019 at TD Garden in Boston.
Here are five takeaways from Friday's thriller...
Big time players show up for big-time games. Irving was terrific for the Celtics to start the game and was able to explode late in the fourth period and overtime to lead Boston to the victory.
23 of Irving's 43 points came in the fourth quarter and overtime. Once Danny Green fouled out of the game, no other Raptors had a chance of stopping Irving. He got to where he wanted to go at will and was making unbelievable shots and layups.
As good as Jayson Tatum was in the playoffs a year ago and as good as Gordon Hayward can be, no one on the Celtics roster can dominate a game like Kyrie. When he's on, it gives Boston the chance to beat any team in the NBA on any night.
Irving scored (23) or assisted (13) on 36 points in the 4th quarter and overtime. The Raptors scored 34 points in that span.- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 17, 2018
Danny Green fouled out in the fourth quarter with only 11 points and five rebounds, but he was instrumental defensively, finishing with a game-high plus-18.
When Kyrie Irving got going, it was Green who was called upon to slow him down and he did. When Jayson Tatum had a mini-spurt in the fourth quarter, Green guarded him to slow him down. Once he fouled out, Irving and Tatum took over late in the game and overtime.
Having Green is a luxury and Nurse can continue to use him to slow down the opposing team's best player while Leonard rests on that end of the floor.
Stagnant offence in the fourth and OT
Having Kawhi Leonard on this year's team is one of the reasons the Raptors have one of the best records in the league. He's an unbelievable talent and when the game is on the line, he should, for the most part, have the ball in his hands.
The problem is having Leonard has also forced the Raptors into standing around and watching him go to work, making it easy for defences to slow them down offensively. The Raptors came into Friday's game ranked ninth in the league in assists per game with 24.9. In the fourth quarter, they rank 20th in the league with just 5.0.
Ball movement is what makes the Raptors' offence so dynamic. When the ball stopped on Friday, the Celtics were able to capitalize.
Raptors' Second Unit
One of the bright spots coming into the season was how deep the Raptors are, boasting one of the best benches in the league.
So far this season, the bench mob hasn't lived up to the hype.
On Friday, every player off the bench finished with a negative plus/minus, and outside of Jonas Valančiūnas, who to his credit has been incredible in his minutes this season, the bench has been a disappointment.
Injuries sure are a part of it with Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet, C.J. Miles and O.G. Anunoby, who left the game with a sprained wrist, all missing time at one point or another. When they're in, however, they've failed to make a serious impact on any game this season.
The Raptors have gotten away with it to this point, but if they do truly plan on taking the next step this season, the bench simply has to be better.
The Celtics as a team were averaging just 19.1 free-throws coming into Friday's game. Only the Orlando Magic (17.3) get to the line less.
Boston finished with 24 attempts in the OT win against Toronto.
For a team that has as much talent as they have in terms of players who can create their own shot and get to the rim seemingly at will, that's simply not good enough.
Nick Nurse told ESPN's Lisa Salters after the first quarter that he wanted his team to play through the contact. They responded by attacking and winning the foul line 29-24.