NBA champion Raptors level series against Celtics


Miami (AFP)

Pascal Siakam shook off a slow start to score 23 points as the NBA champion Toronto Raptors beat the Boston Celtics 100-93 on Saturday to knot their playoff series at two games apiece.

Kyle Lowry scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds with seven assists for the Raptors, who won their second straight game and will try to gain the upper hand in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series for the first time in game five in the Orlando "bubble" on Monday.

Two days after Toronto won game two on OG Anunoby's buzzer-beating three-pointer, the Raptors clamped down defensively, holding the Celtics to 20% shooting from three-point range while draining 17 three-pointers themselves.

"Feels like we're starting over," Siakam said, but added: "It's a great team we're playing against. It's not going to be easy. We know that. So we just have to continue to work hard."

Lowry echoed the theme, saying the Raptors can't afford to get complacent after two straight wins.

"We just continue to focus on every possession, every game," he said. "We know how tough those guys are."

Serge Ibaka connected on seven of nine shots from the floor to score 18 points off the bench for Toronto and Fred VanVleet added 17 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Raptors.

Jayson Tatum scored 24 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the Celtics. Kemba Walker added 15 points

But Boston connected on just seven of 35 three-point attempts. Jaylen Brown struggled mightily, making just two of 11 from beyond the arc and just four of 18 overall in a 14-point performance.

"We weren't very crisp all night," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "I think once we missed a few we started trying to hit home runs."