Garnett carries Celtics to 99-95 win over Raptors

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Garnett carries Celtics to 99-95 win over Raptors

TORONTO You don't build up the kind of Hall of Fame credentials that Kevin Garnett has without dominating a game or two along the way.
Even at 36, KG still has it in him to be the best player on the floor -- even if he's the oldest.
The Toronto Raptors found that out on Wednesday night as Garnett carried the Celtics to a 99-95 win.
It was his 12-foot fadeaway jumper with less than a minute to play that put the Celtics ahead 96-91 in what eventually turned out to be the game-winning basket.
But the Raptors weren't done.
After cutting Boston's lead to three points, Toronto forced Paul Pierce into a tough off-balance shot that rimmed out. In the scramble for the rebound, it eventually sailed out of bounds off of Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan with 18 seconds to play.
From there, Toronto intentionally fouled Jeff Green who made the second free throw with 17.6 seconds to play that gave the C's a 97-93 lead.
Rudy Gay had two shots around the basket -- both misses -- with the loose ball eventually being rebounded by Courtney Lee who was immediately fouled with 9.8 seconds to play.
Lee made both free throws to finally put the game away.
Boston (25-23) has now five straight, with Wednesday's victory being their first away from the TD Garden.
Garnett was indeed the one that led the way, but not too far behind him was Leandro Barbosa who had 14 points, 12 of which came in the fourth quarter.
After falling behind by 10 points going into the fourth, the Celtics opened the quarter with a 7-0 spurt capped off by a 12-foot pull-up jumper by Jason Terry off a Jeff Green steal.
Toronto called a time-out, well aware that they were looking at yet another second-half collapse, which has been one of the constants with their team all season.
"We have to get better at finishing games off," Toronto big man Amir Johnson said prior to the game.
Toronto had a stretch earlier this year in which they led at the half in nine straight games, but came away losers six times.
Wednesday had the makings of another late-game collapse for the Raptors, and an impressive comeback for the Celtics.
An improbable over the shoulder shot by Garnett plus the free throw, tied the game at 79.
But the Raptors were not willing to concede this one, as they continued to make the most of Boston's mistakes.
After a lay-up by Kyle Lowry off a bad pass by Boston put the Raptors ahead 83-81, it was the Raptor's 26th point off of 13 Celtics turnovers.
After seemingly righting their ways in the second quarter, they reverted back to committing the many miscues that had them in a back-and-fourth tussle with the Raptors earlier in the game.
Specifically, their turnovers.
It wasn't so much that the Celtics had that many.
It's just that when they made a mistake, the Raptors quickly capitalized on it with points of their own.
And making matters worst, Garnett picked up his fourth personal foul with 6:48 to play in the third quarter which immediately sent him to the bench.
Garnett on the sideline is never a good look for the Celtics, especially on a night like Wednesday when he was scoring the ball with such ease.
While his departure was relatively close to when he usually sits, his absence and the absence of anyone filling his void, was apparent.
Within a couple of minutes, Boston saw itself looking up to a 69-65 deficit following a dunk by Andrea Bargnani.
But the Celtics dealt with that adversity in the same manner they have done of late -- deal with it, and after that, get the win.

Celtics-Cavaliers preview: Game 5 is about respect for Boston

Celtics-Cavaliers preview: Game 5 is about respect for Boston

BOSTON – From the outset of this season, the Boston Celtics were swimming upstream when it came to getting respect. 

No matter how many wins they racked up, no matter how many upsets they managed to pull off, they were never going to do enough to satisfy the court of public opinion which wanted one thing and one thing only from the NBA: A third installment of Golden State against Cleveland in the NBA Finals. 

The Warriors did their part by running through the West with 12 wins in as many playoff games. 

Meanwhile, the Celtics will try to not just stave off elimination tonight, but continue to delay what so many believe is an inevitable Golden State-Cleveland Final.

Boston’s Al Horford understands that while the league this season has seen lots of individual success as well as teams that have overachieved, the thirst for Golden State versus Cleveland remains stronger than ever. 

“We understand that’s what everyone has been talking about since the beginning of the season,” Horford said. “For us it’s just to focus … and play the Celtic way. And just come out here and fight and we’ll take it from there.”

The Celtics did that in Game 3 with Avery Bradley delivering one of the more memorable shots in the Brad Stevens era, a game-winning three-pointer that hit the rim four times before falling with 0.1 seconds to play as Boston squeaked out a 111-108 win.

Boston did a lot of good things in Game 4 and seemingly went into the half sensing that maybe just maybe they would even up the series at two games heading back to Boston for tonight’s Game 5 matchup. 

But Kyrie Irving picked up the slack for a foul-plagued LeBron James, lifting the Cavaliers to a 112-99 win which puts them now just a win away from advancing to the NBA Finals. 

Not only have folks both in the media as well as fans who have rooted for this series to be over, even merchandise sellers like Dick Sporting Goods have anticipated this series as already being over.

“It is what it is,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder. “It’s been like that all year; a lot of guys counting us out. At the same time, we’re trying to put ourselves in position to win each and every game.”

While that has been the goal, it certainly hasn’t worked out that way in this series. 

Despite Games 1 and 2 being at the TD Garden, the Celtics lost both games by a total of 57 points. 

And while they won Game 3 and had the Cavaliers on the ropes in Game 4 before losing, they know their chance to play NBA Finals spoiler is just about up. 

“We know that’s the Finals that everybody wants to talk about, what everybody is looking forward to,” said Boston’s Marcus Smart. “We understand it. But we work just as hard as these guys. We just have to keep going out there and working. We’re not going to give it to them, and stuff like that. We just have to make it tough on them.”