Title: After two elite quarters, Celtics figure out Raptors defence in fourth
Date: September 1, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the Celtics figuring out the Raptors’ defence to some degree in the fourth quarter of Game 2.
The game plan did not account for Marcus Smart turning into Steph Curry.
If it had, the Toronto Raptors might not be down 2-0 to the Boston Celtics right now. Then again, if it had, the Coach of the Year probably would have faced more incredulous questions than when he rolled out a “janky” box-and-one defence against Curry in the NBA Finals. And so Smart’s first two games of the series have instead tested the tensile strength of Nick Nurse’s patience: How long do you trust a scheme built for a large sample, and what is the rupture point for veering away from it to accept that something completely abnormal is persisting?
Smart buried the Raptors under a barrage of 3s in the fourth quarter on Tuesday. It’s something the numbers say won’t happen often. It doesn’t need to, though. The playoffs are all about doing what’s necessary to win that one game, then finding a new way the next time out. And while Smart’s 5-of-7 shooting performance in the corners in Game 1 was merely a bellwether for a bad game overall, his continued hot shooting was the swing factor in Game 2. Smart, a 34.7 percent 3-point shooter in the regular season and 35.5 percent 3-point shooter over the previous two years, is now 11-of-20 in the series.