Cameroon star Pascal Siakam couldn’t save his side as the defending NBA champions the Toronto Raptors were beaten by the Boston Celtics 102-99 in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference second-round series at Walt Disney World Resort falling 2-0 behind in the process.
Siakam could only muster 17 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals and the forward was visibly disappointed after the game.
“We gotta win next game,” he said. “That’s what matters. I think we’ve played pretty decent. Obviously, in the fourth quarter there, we didn’t make shots like they did. I think we just have to take that and continue to have the same intensity and win the next game and worry about that.”
Toronto led by as many as 12 in the third quarter and entered the fourth quarter with a 78-70 led. Then Marcus Smart hit a hot streak, sinking five 3-pointers — including a four-point play — in the first 4:05 of the fourth quarter as Boston took control.
It didn’t help that the Raptors shot 5-of-21 from the field and 1-of-11 from 3-point range in one of their worst fourth-quarter performances of the season.
Siakam went 0-for-3 in the fourth quarter and 6-for-16 for the game. Lowry and fellow starting guard Fred VanVleet combined to go 2-for-10 (1-for-7 from 3) in the fourth quarter and a combined 13-for-38 (3-for-19 from 3) overall. Now, all the pressure shifts onto the Raptors in Game 3.
However, the Raptors have experience in digging themselves out of such holes. Last season they were staring a 2-0 deficit in the face in the Eastern Conference finals against the Milwaukee Bucks. They answered with four straight victories to advance to the NBA Finals which they subsequently won for the first time in their history.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse said that if last season’s run to the Finals after being down 2-0 to Milwaukee taught Toronto anything, it’s that the team shouldn’t give up.
“We know the next game is super critical,” Nurse said. “But they are all critical. They are. But we know this one is super critical.”
On their part, despite being in a commanding position, the Celtics are resting on their oars even though they have beaten the Raptors three times since the NBA restart.
“Our work’s not done,” Celtics guard Kemba Walker said. “Even though we’re up two games, these guys have been down before. These guys know what it takes. They’re still the defending champs. And we’ve still got tons of work to do. These guys ain’t going away at all. They’re going to come even stronger.”