LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The game plan from Boston coach Brad Stevens was simple: Start things off with an increased effort on defense to set an immediate tone.
The Celtics did exactly as he asked — and put the reigning NBA champions on the ropes.
Jaylen Brown scored 27 points and the Celtics never trailed, rolling past the Toronto Raptors 111-89 in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Monday night.
Boston now leads the series 3-2 and can earn a trip to the East finals on Wednesday.
Kemba Walker scored 21 for the Celtics, whose starters outscored Toronto's starters by a whopping 93-45. Jayson Tatum scored 18, Daniel Theis and Brad Wanamaker each had 15 and Marcus Smart added 12 for Boston.
Fred VanVleet scored 18 for Toronto, which trailed by as many as 30. Norman Powell scored 16 for the Raptors, while Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry managed 10 points apiece. Matt Thomas also had 10 for Toronto.
CLIPPERS 113, NUGGETS 107
Paul George scored 32 points, Kawhi Leonard added 23 along with a big late block and the dynamic duo helped the Clippers rally in the fourth quarter for a win over the Nuggets in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series.
Leonard did a little bit of everything as he grabbed 14 rebounds and dished out six assists. He also had two blocks, including one late on a shot by Jamal Murray at the rim.
Los Angeles takes a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is Wednesday.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers called a timeout to calm down the Clippers with 8:29 left and trailing 97-90. Fueled by defense, Los Angeles went on a 14-4 run to take a 104-101 lead. The Clippers wouldn't trail again.
Lou Williams sealed the win with a driving layup that extended the lead to six with 2:04 left. George turned in a torrid shooting night. He finished 12 of 18 from the floor, including five 3-pointers.
Nikola Jokic had 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists for Denver despite a sore right wrist that had him questionable before the game.