TORONTO — During a timeout in the first quarter, and for all of the world to hear on Christmas Day, Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown laid out the desperation that represented the frustrations of every single player who has played in the Atlantic Division and ventured north of the border in the past four years.
“Let’s get this! I’ve never won here!”
On pace for a career year, Brown then almost singlehandedly made sure that the Toronto Raptors’ four-year hegemony at home against the Atlantic Division was finally put to an end.
Brown scored 16 of his 30 points in the third quarter as the Celtics defeated Toronto 118-102 at Scotia Bank Arena in the Raptors’ first-ever home game on Christmas Day. Kemba Walker scored 22 points as Boston snapped Toronto’s 34-game home winning streak against teams in the Atlantic Division, last losing such a game to the New York Knicks, 111-109, on Nov. 10, 2015.
“It was good to get a win here on Christmas,” said Brown, who made 10 of his 13 shots from the field on the afternoon. “I’ve never won here, period, so it was great to just get one.”
Along with the four-year stranglehold on the division that was snapped, Toronto had also won eight consecutive games against the Celtics at home until today. Enes Kanter, who was assured by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that he could safely play in Toronto without any threat of reprisal by the Turkish government, scored 12 points and had 11 rebounds.
Fred VanVleet scored 27 points for the Raptors, whose last home game saw them come back from a 31-point deficit in defeating the Dallas Mavericks. Chris Boucher scored a career-high 24 points as Toronto played without the services of starters Pascal Siakam (groin) and Marc Gasol (left hamstring), as well as key reserve Norman Powell (left shoulder).
“We weren’t quite physical enough, I thought, for most stretches of the game,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse.