BOSTON - Toronto's recent rise through the ranks in the East has been fueled in part by their ability to pound teams on the offensive glass.
Well on Wednesday, the Celtics were able to beat the Raptors at their own game, using a surprisingly dominant performance on the boards to hold on for an 88-83 win.
Of course, Jared Sullinger's career-high 20-rebound effort was certainly a major factor in the victory, which ended a season-long nine game losing streak.
Still, that just told part of the narrative from a game in which Boston out-rebounded Toronto 58-44, which included a 19-13 advantage on the offensive glass and a 25-11 edge in second-chance points.
"Can't win games when you give up 19 offensive rebounds," said Toronto guard Kyle Lowry. "They out-worked us tonight, which is rare for us. It stinks; guys are mad but we should be."
The Raptors' DeMar DeRozan added, "offensive rebounds, offensive rebounds. That's the game right there."
And with that, here's the Good, the Bad and the Ugly from the Celtics victory.
It was a career-night kind of performance for the second-year forward. Along with his 25 points, Sullinger hauled in 20 rebounds - yes, 20 rebounds! It was the first 20/20 game by a Celtic since Kevin Garnett did it on Nov. 2, 2007 - his first game with the Green team.
Rajon Rondo's minutes will be limited to 18-20 minutes when he returns. It's nice for the Celtics to know that his backup, Phil Pressey, can get the job done. In his first start of the season, the rookie tallied 10 assists without a single turnover.
Give Green his props for the job he did defending DeMar DeRozan (23 points on 9-for-22 shooting). Still, this was yet another one of those nights when Green simply could not make the shots that a player with his talent and skills, should be making. He finished with 13 points on 4-for-16 shooting.
It wasn't the play calling down the stretch, and it wasn't really Toronto's defense. Boston did everything you want on most of its offensive possessions in the fourth except one thing: finish off the play with a basket. It left the door ajar for a Toronto comeback. And they did what any decent team would do. They kicked the door in and made it a game. But too much Sullinger and too many missed free throws (12-for-25) by the Raptors ultimately sealed their fate.