Jaylen Brown

John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports

Raptors 111, Celtics 91: Eastern Conference by no means a given for C's with Raptors in picture

John Tomase
February 06, 2018 - 9:58 pm

Don't book those Finals flights just yet. The Celtics have competition in the Eastern Conference.

With the surging C's and struggling Cavs dominating headlines and storylines this season, the Toronto Raptors have very quietly stayed the course.

On Tuesday night, they smashed the Celtics, 111-91, to draw even in the loss column in a battle of the conference's top two teams.

The Celtics (39-16) still own a one-game lead on Toronto (37-16), but the Raptors made a compelling case that they're Boston's equal by showing off not only their dynamic duo of All-Stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, but a deep bench that dominated the visitors.

The Celtics have already added big man Greg Monroe and remain in the running for scorers like Memphis's Tyreke Evans and the Clippers' Lou Williams on the trade market. Monday's loss reinforced the notion that the second unit needs help, especially against the Raptors, whose reserves actually outscored the starters.

"Their bench has been killing people all year," Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters, later adding, "We got our butts kicked by a really good team that overwhelmed us."

Players like Fred VanFleet, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl, and CJ Miles might not be household names, but they were a combined plus-62 off the bench to carry the Raptors to their fifth win in six games. The Celtics, meanwhile, saw their four-game winning streak snapped.

The Raptors pulled away with a 36-point second quarter. For the game, they shot 17-for-36 on 3-pointers, including 6-for-11 from Lowry.

The Celtics, meanwhile, got 18 points from Terry Rozier off the bench and 17 from Kyrie Irving in his return from a sore quad.

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