Jayson Tatum leads Celtics to Game 7 win over Raptors


This was the Jayson Tatum the Celtics were banking on.

The player so many viewed as potentially one of the best players in the NBA still had something to prove: That he could put a team on his back in an elimination postseason game in the same fashion of the true greats. Well, Friday night Tatum answered the bell.

The 22-year-old did a little bit of everything, including give the Celtics a presence the Raptors had no answer for down the stretch. The result was a 92-87 win for Brad Stevens' team.

Tatum's effort couldn't be punctuated, however, until the final seconds.

Tatum (29 points, 12 rebounds) got a key rebound off a second straight missed free throw by Grant Williams with 35 seconds left. It resulted in a free throw from the C's star, putting his team up three.

Williams, who was in the game after Daniel Theis fouled out, redeemed himself by effectively contesting a Fred VanVleet 3-pointer, paving the way to Kemba Walker's decisive two free throws with eight seconds left.

The Celtics will now play the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals in best-of-seven series that will begin Tuesday night.

Tatum led the fourth-quarter charge for the Celtics after a back-and-forth first three quarters had resulted in a one-point C’s advantage heading into the fourth.

It wasn’t just Tatum, either.

The other star-in-the-making Jaylen Brown also did his part while Kemba Walker was still trying to find his way through the Raptors’ box-and-one.

And then there was Marcus Smart, who supplied the Celtics with a boatload of Marcus Smart things when it counted the most. Perhaps his most important contribution came on a block of Norman Powell as the Raptors guard was looking to tie the game with just under a minute to go.