Jaylen Brown was left fuming after OG Anunoby's buzzer-beater snatched a dramatic 104-103 win for the Toronto Raptors to reduce the Boston Celtics' series lead to 2-1.

The Celtics looked set to be on the brink of the Eastern Conference finals when a Daniel Theis dunk with 0.5 seconds to play put them two points up on Thursday.

Yet there was one final twist, as a miscommunication between Jayson Tatum and Brown gave Anunoby the opportunity to win Game 3 and he grasped it to give the defending champions a lifeline.

Celtics guard Brown was furious over such a costly late lapse, with Brown left free for a decisive three-pointer.

He said: "That was just a f****** disgrace at the end of the game. That was just terrible.

"No way we should have lost that game. I take responsibility for that. Not just that play, but a lot of the plays before. And it happens.

"This is the NBA playoffs. Either you let them gain momentum or you come back and be ready to play next game."

He added: "Just a miscommunication [of] the coverage that we were in. That's all that really is. They made a remarkable play at the end. [Anunoby] snuck along the baseline, and we just gotta communicate better, that's it.

"As a unit, that can't happen. We were matched up, and OG snuck along the baseline, didn't recognise him early enough and he got a wide-open look.

"We gotta be better than that. We gotta communicate better. Me being four years in, I gotta be better. Can't give up the three at the end of the game. He made a remarkable shot, but still.

"It's a f****** disgrace. Terrible. No excuse for it. At all. It was ridiculous. Can't take your foot off the gas at all. We gotta be ready to play Game 4 [on Saturday]."

Toronto Raptors hero OG Anunoby said he was not surprised to hit the buzzer-beating three-pointer against the Boston Celtics in the NBA playoffs, insisting "I don't shoot trying to miss".

Anunoby nailed the game-winning three as time expired to lift defending champions the Raptors to a 104-103 victory over the Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

After Daniel Theis' dunk had put the Celtics ahead by two points with a half-second remaining, Anunoby caught a cross-court pass from Kyle Lowry and hit a stunning shot from beyond the arc at Walt Disney World Resort.

The Raptors snapped a run of back-to-back defeats as they reduced the Celtics' lead to 2-1 heading into Saturday's Game 4.

Asked how he stayed so calm in a clutch moment, Anunoby – who barely showed any emotion as he was mobbed by his team-mates – replied: "I expected to make it. I don't shoot trying to miss. Every shot I try to make it… I wasn't surprised."

"No one was rattled after [Theis' dunk]," Anunoby said. "Everyone stayed confident about the next play. Let's focus on running this play and getting a good shot off.

"We were confident in anyone that took the shot that [they] could make it. This group is resilient. Just a next-play mentality."

Raptors star Lowry, who provided the assist for Anunoby's winner and finished with 31 points, added: “That pass was nothing, that shot was everything.

"He deserves all the love and celebration he's getting tonight, that kid works extremely hard and, like I said, it's his moment."

Defending NBA champions the Toronto Raptors dramatically avoided falling 3-0 behind in the Eastern Conference semi-finals thanks to OG Anunoby's game-winning shot against the Boston Celtics.

Down by two points and two games, the Raptors were staring at a third consecutive defeat but Anunoby nailed a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give Toronto a 104-103 victory in Game 3 of the NBA playoff series on Thursday.

Anunoby was mobbed by his team-mates in wild scenes at Walt Disney World Resort, where he caught a cross-court pass from Kyle Lowry and hit the three as time expired.

The Celtics had taken a two-point lead with a half-second remaining after Kemba Walker assisted Daniel Theis' dunk.

But now the Raptors only trail 2-1 heading into Saturday's Game 4, which is good news for Toronto as no team in NBA history have rallied from a 3-0 series deficit.

Meanwhile, Kawhi Leonard inspired the Los Angeles Clippers to a 120-97 rout of the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semi-final opener.

Leonard – a two-time NBA champion – had a game-high 29 points for the second-seeded Clippers in Game 1 in Orlando, Florida.


Lowry fuels rallying Raptors

Lowry celebrated emphatically when Anunoby nailed his shot from beyond the arc. Lowry posted 31 points, eight assists and six rebounds for the Raptors. Fellow star Fred VanVleet contributed 25 points and six assists. Walker had 29 points for the beaten Celtics.

Per STATS, Anunoby became the first player to hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer in the playoffs with his team down by two points since Damian Lillard did so for the Portland Trail Blazers against the Houston Rockets in 2014.


Murray unable to back-up heroics

Coming off a gruelling seven-game series, which he averaged 31.6 points and scored at least 50 points in the Utah Jazz matchup, Jamal Murray was limited to just 12 points on Thursday. He was only five-for-15 shooting in the loss to the Clippers. Star team-mate Nikola Jokic finished with just 15 points.

It was a tough outing for Boston's Marcus Smart, who was four of 15 from the field for 11 points in 37 minutes.


Kawhi with the slam

There was no stopping Leonard en route to the rim against the Nuggets.


Rockets face Lakers

The Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers will open their Western Conference semi-final series on Friday. Eastern Conference top seeds the Milwaukee Bucks, meanwhile, will fight to snap back-to-back defeats in Game 3 against the Miami Heat.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant has been named the 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year as New Orleans Pelicans sensation Zion Williamson placed third.

Morant became the second Grizzlies player to win the award, following in the footsteps of Pau Gasol (2001-02) after receiving 99 first-place votes for a total of 498 points.

The second pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Morant finished ahead of the Miami Heat's Kendrick Nunn (204 points) and number one pick Williamson (140), who was hampered by a knee injury.

Morant helped the Grizzlies reach the play-in game at Walt Disney World Resort this season as he averaged 17.8 points and 7.3 assists per game.

The 21-year-old also had 15 double-doubles, while he was the only rookie this season to record two triple-doubles.

Morant joined Oscar Robertson (1960-61), Magic Johnson (1979-80), Isiah Thomas (1981-82), Damon Stoudamire (1995-96), Allen Iverson (1996-97) and Trae Young (2018-19) as one of seven rookies in NBA history to average at least 17.0 points per game and 7.0 assists per game.

LeBron James lavished praise on Russell Westbrook and James Harden as the Los Angeles Lakers look for a way to stop the key Houston Rockets duo in the NBA playoffs.

The Lakers and Rockets meet in Game 1 of the Western Conference semi-finals on Friday, with James' team having overcome the Portland Trail Blazers in five games and Houston ousting the Oklahoma City Thunder in a series that went the distance.

Former Thunder pair Westbrook and Harden – both of whom have won league MVP awards during their careers – will clearly command the most attention from James and others on the Lakers defense.

Harden led the league when averaging 34.3 points in the regular season while Westbrook finished in the top 21 in the league for points, rebounds and assists.

"With James, it's how available he is to his team-mates - night in and night out," James told reporters.

"If you look at how many games he plays per year, and how many minutes he plays throughout the course of his career, pretty much he's always been available.

"He's always been in uniform and he's been doing this at a high level for a lot of years.

"That's what kind of gets lost in translation because everyone looks at Euro stepping and step-back threes, but when you're available to your team-mates, that's gigantic to any sport, any craft or anything that you're doing in life.

"If you're just available for someone they know they can always count on you. That's pretty much one of the best things that people don't recognise."

James has played with both Harden and Westbrook for the United States team and the three-time NBA champion admires the latter's approach when he is on the court.

"With Russ, he's just an assassin," James added.

"He's full-throttle and he could care less what anyone thinks about his game, he goes out and plays his way and he's been successful doing that.

"They're two great basketball players, two really good guys - great guys, more importantly. They just do what they do. They go out and they take care of their business and they pretty much don't care what anyone says about the way they play."

Steve Kerr thanked Steve Nash for his work at the Golden State Warriors as he took up his first head coach role with the Brooklyn Nets.

Nash, a two-time MVP and Hall of Fame point guard as a player, had resisted the urge to move into full-time coaching until signing with the Nets on Thursday.

Prior to that, the 46-year-old was a consultant for the Warriors, coached by friend Kerr, for five seasons.

Golden State won two titles and made the Finals on four straight occasions in this stint before injuries ravaged their 2019-20 campaign.

Following news of Nash's new role in Brooklyn, Kerr took to Twitter to express his appreciation for the departing great and predict a promising future as a coach.

"Congratulations to @SteveNash and thank you for all your work over the years with the @warriors," Kerr wrote in a post that was shared by the Warriors.

"You are going to crush it in Brooklyn! @BrooklynNets."

Nash will again link up with Kevin Durant, a star of Kerr's Golden State team, as the 31-year-old prepares to return to action for the first time since the 2019 Finals.

Durant was injured as the Warriors lost to the Toronto Raptors and then departed for the Nets in free agency.

Steve Nash claimed to have the confidence of Kevin Durant after taking his first coaching job and is excited to work with the former Golden State Warrior and Kyrie Irving at the Brooklyn Nets.

Nash, a two-time NBA MVP and Hall of Fame point guard as a player, was named as the new Nets head coach on Thursday, reportedly signing a four-year contract.

The move sees Nash again link up with Durant, who was at Golden State when the 46-year-old was a consultant to Steve Kerr on a team that won two titles.

Durant is yet to feature for Brooklyn due to the Achilles tear he suffered playing for the Warriors in the 2019 Finals ahead of his free agency move.

The 31-year-old was joined in making the move to the Nets by Irving, who plays in Nash's old position and is also familiar with the new appointment.

Nash told ESPN's The Undefeated: "[Durant] is one of the greatest players I've ever seen and to have his confidence is really important. There is a respect and admiration there for me.

"For me and Ky, our relationship is important. He is the [point guard] and I'm the coach.

"I'm thrilled I get the opportunity to know him better and to understand him, how he plays and what he sees and to be here to help him refine his gifts."

Having said in the team's statement he had wanted to take the step into coaching "when the time was right", Nash added: "The coaching itch was always there.

"In a way, I kind of kept it to myself to give me the freedom of not being on the radar of coaching expectancy.

"I've always known in the back of my mind that I'd love to do it."

The Brooklyn Nets have named two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash as their new head coach.

Reports emerged early on Thursday that the former Phoenix Suns point guard was to be handed the Nets job despite his lack of coaching experience.

Confirmation followed that Nash had signed with the team – reportedly on a four-year contract – and will keep Jacque Vaughn, the interim coach, on as his assistant.

Nash, 46, was an eight-time All-Star as a player and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018, three years after his retirement.

The South African-born Canadian, who played for the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Suns, has until now resisted turning to coaching.

Nash was a consultant at the Golden State Warriors for Finals victories in 2017 and 2018, however.

"Coaching is something I knew I wanted to pursue when the time was right," Nash said. "I am humbled to be able to work with the outstanding group of players and staff we have here in Brooklyn."

He takes over a Nets team who lost 4-0 to defending champions the Toronto Raptors in the first round of this year's playoffs.

Brooklyn – led by Vaughn following Kenny Atkinson's departure in March – could only name a makeshift line-up following the season restart in Orlando, Florida.

Kevin Durant, who was at Golden State with Nash, missed the entire season following his 2019 Finals Achilles tear with the Warriors.

Kyrie Irving, signed alongside Durant in free agency last year, underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in February, while Spencer Dinwiddie then tested positive for coronavirus.

With Durant and Irving fit again for the 2020-21 campaign, Nash will be expected to put together a competitive Nets team.

In dark and uncertain times wrought by the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, the success of the NBA bubble has served the purpose of lodestar, as the world fumbles its way to a vague new normal.

With frequent testing and no cases recorded, it certainly seems the NBA is pulling off the Florida bubble experiment, so far.  Like so many successes, however, we know it comes at great cost.  In this case, I fear the ones picking up the tab will be the league’s stars, with no less than their mental health being the price to pay.

 For the most part, the athletes are showing exemplary discipline by sticking to the strict protocols of the biosecure experiment, but at what cost?

Generally, the world is captivated by the way COVID-19 is pushing us creatively. In this case, the Disney World bubble has allowed NBA fans to enjoy energetic, competitive in-demand games.  Basketball lovers are happy to ignore ‘strange’ aspects of the stadium for an experience closer to normal.

 I recently read an article by Men’s Journal titled, ‘The NBA’s COVID-Free Return Is About A Lot More Than Just Basketball.’ It listed the different characteristics of a game before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“No amount of virtual fans will stop me from noticing the sealed booths for announcers and stat keepers, the masks everywhere. At certain angles, the court seems to be floating in the black vacuum of space, and when players run to save a ball from the sideline, they disappear into the shadows and for a second I wonder if they’ve fallen into some abyss.”

However, the article went on to state, “But, while the game is going, I forget. I forget about all the strangeness and the world seems normal again. And I’m noticing less the more basketball I watch. The restart of the NBA is evidence that people can get used to anything.”

It's all fun and games to enjoy the very best aspects of the sporting endeavor, but deadly serious to ignore the mental health impact of COVID-19 on athletes.

 The COVID-19 mental health implications are an all too real effect of the pandemic.  According to the World Health Organization, it greatly increases the stress level of the population at large and has other psychological effects.

“In public mental health terms, the main psychological impact to date is elevated rates of stress or anxiety. But as new measures and impacts are introduced – especially quarantine and its effects on many people’s usual activities, routines or livelihoods – levels of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol, and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behaviour are also expected to rise.”

The La Clippers' Paul George experienced just such anxiety and depression facing the isolation of the NBA bubble. Though the player was a staunch advocate for creating a safe playing environment, he admitted, “but at the same time, it's rough.”

 Authenticating George’s mental state problems was the team’s coach, Doc Rivers. He opined, “This is not a normal environment, OK? It just isn't.”

It was only through conversations with the team's psychiatrist, coach, teammates, and close family members that his spirit was lifted.

 Sure, reuniting with family members in the bubble gives players some mental stability but not all players have families or even want them in an isolated environment.

 Such considerations are perfectly understandable, managing a family situation within the bubble can be a tricky affair.  For children, there is no place like home, what happens when they start getting bored? How do they cope with the situation mentally?

Families began arriving in the Orlando area last week so they could quarantine before being permitted to the bubble. Once inside, they will be subjected to the same daily coronavirus testing and mandatory wearing of masks as players and staff, which can be another stressful situation in and of itself.


Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!


James Harden admitted he "was just doing everything that was not supposed to happen" before coming up with a vital series-winning block in Game 7 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Houston Rockets superstar Harden had just 17 points on Wednesday after also failing to have an impact late in Game 6.

The Thunder won on that occasion as Russell Westbrook was instead handed control of the team down the stretch and contributed costly clutch errors, prompting Chris Paul - Harden's ex-team-mate - to say: "Some people are built for it, some people shy away from it."

But just as it looked as though Harden would come up short again, a block on Lu Dort denied the OKC rookie the chance to win the first-round series from three-point range in the closing seconds.

"Physically, I felt like s*** - excuse my language," Harden told ESPN. "I couldn't make a shot, turned the ball over, was just doing everything that was not supposed to happen, but I just kept sticking with it.

"My team-mates give me confidence throughout the game. Defensively I had to make a play and I closed it out to him. Dort has been making some shots, so I wanted to get out to him."

Harden's defensive game has often been criticised but he said he had "been locked in all year long trying to be better" and "tried to find a way to impact the game".

For that reason, he ranked the play - with his team 103-102 ahead - among the best of his outstanding NBA career.

"It's one of the top ones, definitely," Harden, who reacted with a roar of delight, said afterwards to reporters.

"It's cool to get 40 or 50 points, shooting the ball, shooting the ball - obviously we all want to do that - but just to get recognition and for it to pay off when it counts on the defensive end, showing that I've been engaged and locked in, means a lot."

The final play was harsh on Dort, who went undrafted last year, only debuted in December and averaged just 6.8 points in the regular season but came up with a game-high 30 in the decider.

The 21-year-old made six three-pointers but could not find a way past Harden at the last and threw the ball out of bounds when his shot was blocked.

"I just kept my confidence. The way they were playing me, they were letting me shoot," Dort said. "Even though I had a couple of bad nights, I stepped up and shot it with confidence.

"On the last one, I just didn't think he was that close but he was and he got it. It felt good and I was confident enough to take that shot, but he was just there and it was a good play from him."

Harden said of his opponent: "I've known him since college, when I would go back to Arizona State, and he would work his butt off. It's showing.

"He played extremely well tonight; on the offensive end, he made a lot of shots. He just plays his butt off. He doesn't care about anything but playing hard.

"As a young guy, coming into this league, that's all you can ask for. Learning how to play and learning defensive schemes and offensive schemes, the total package of being an NBA player, that is going to come.

"But he has the right mindset of just playing hard and not caring what anybody thinks. He's going to have a great career."

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Mike Budenholzer stressed the need to move on quickly after a contentious ending to the Milwaukee Bucks' defeat to the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

A breathless finish had seen Khris Middleton sink three free throws after Goran Dragic was judged to have stepped in his landing area to tie up a game in which 51 personal fouls were whistled for in Orlando.

But more drama followed when it was ruled Antetokounmpo fouled Jimmy Butler at the buzzer, with Bucks head coach Budenholzer having already used up his challenge.

Butler kept his nerve to sink the two free throws and seal a 116-114 win that sees the Heat move 2-0 in front, while it was just the third time in playoff history a game ended on free throws after time expired.

"I tried to make it tough for Jimmy," Antetokounmpo, who finished with a game-high 29 points, reflected on the decision. "The refs said there was contact there. Maybe there was, I've got to watch the play. 

"It is what it is. I tried to contest the shot, but they said there was contact there, so I've got to watch [the] play." 

The Bucks now face an uphill battle as the previous 11 teams to trail 2-0 in a best-of-seven series having recorded the best regular-season record went on to be eliminated, and Antetokounmpo issued a rallying cry to his team-mates.

"It's about us. It's always going to be about us. That's why we practice. That's why we go through our game plan. That's why we've got to come out and play harder," added Antetokounmpo, whose team also lost twice to the Heat in the regular season. 

"That's why we've got to make more shots. It's always going to be about us. It's not about what the other team is going to do. 

"It might be the Miami Heat now, next round might be a different team, next year might be a different team. It's always going to be about us.

"How can we get better? How can we not repeat the same mistakes? How can we not down the stretch make turnovers? How can we create easier shots?

"It's always going to be about us. It's never going to be about the other team that we're playing."

Budenholzer was not happy with the decisive call but followed a similar line to his star man.

"I would say we're disappointed with the judgment, with the decision, the timing," he said.

"It's a tough job. I have a lot of respect for the officials and the crew tonight. It's not an easy job, and of course we have our way of seeing things and we're going to disagree, but we need to shift our attention to Game 3 and get prepared for that. Understand that that's the most important thing right now."

Conversely, Butler had no doubt the right decision was made, saying: "It was an iso [isolated one-v-one], Goran [Dragic] made a hell of a pass on the inbound, then just wait for the clock to go out," Butler said. 

"A step-back jumper and I got fouled, [he] pushed me in the back. Can't deny that, and then I knew I had to make one out of two so I ended up, I think I made both of them and we win."

The Miami Heat moved into a 2-0 series lead over the Milwaukee Bucks in controversial fashion, while the Houston Rockets advanced.

Miami posted a 116-114 victory over the Bucks to go 2-0 up in the Eastern Conference semi-finals on Wednesday.

But it came after a controversial finish in the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World Resort.

With Miami leading 114-111 with less than five seconds to play, Goran Dragic was called for a foul on Khris Middleton, who hit three free-throws.

But, more drama was to follow, Giannis Antetokounmpo ruled to have fouled Jimmy Butler, who hit two free-throws with no time left to lift the Heat to a 2-0 lead against the top seeds.

The Rockets finally advanced from the Western Conference first round thanks to a 104-102 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 7.

Despite a poor offensive outing from James Harden, the Rockets moved into a meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Harden produced a huge late block to deny Luguentz Dort (30 points) as the Rockets held on.


Even Heat enough to power past Giannis

Miami had seven players in double-digits for points in their win over the Bucks, led by Dragic (23).

Tyler Herro, 20, was one of the seven, going six-of-13 from the field for 17 points off the bench for Miami.

Antetokounmpo had a double-double of 29 points and 14 rebounds for the Bucks.

Chris Paul had a triple-double of 19 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds as the Thunder were beaten.


Harden's woes

Harden struggled badly for Houston. The star guard was four-of-15 for just 17 points in 37 minutes, while he also had four turnovers.


Huge defensive moment for Harden

While he battled offensively, Harden delivered a huge defensive play with his block on Dort.

Raptors face Celtics

Trailing the Boston Celtics 2-0 in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, the Toronto Raptors need a response on Thursday.

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic has been fined $15,000 for throwing the ball at the legs of a game official in Sunday's 111-97 defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers.

The reigning Rookie of the Year caught referee Bill Kennedy on the baseline immediately after being whistled for an offensive foul in the third quarter of Game 6.

The incident drew a technical foul and Doncic has now been hit with a financial punishment, as confirmed by NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe on Wednesday.

The contest was a highly-charged affair and Doncic is not alone in being fined, with Clippers forward Marcus Morris ordered to pay $35,000 for "recklessly striking" the Slovenian.

Morris caught Doncic as he was driving to the basket in the first quarter, sending his opponent to the floor after catching him in the face.

The NBA has fined Morris more than the normal amount as he has already been disciplined on several prior occasions for physical altercations on the court.

The Clippers' 4-2 series victory over Dallas set up a Western Conference semi-final with the Denver Nuggets on Thursday at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Jamal Murray is convinced Nikola Jokic is headed for a Hall-of-Fame career after he inspired the Denver Nuggets past the Utah Jazz and into the Western Conference semi-finals.

The Nuggets ran out 80-78 winners in Tuesday's decisive Game 7 of the thrilling first-round series, overcoming a 3-1 deficit that had been inspired by Utah's Donovan Mitchell.

On a night where Murray struggled to hit the same heights he had reached in previous games in the series, Jokic put up 30 points and added 14 rebounds to help the third-seeded Nuggets book a semi-final against the Los Angeles Clippers.

"Dude's a joke," Murray said of Jokic. 

"He does everything. Post up, he shoots it, he passes, he pushes the pace, he's smart, and we definitely needed him today.

"He made clutch baskets and just kept us poised. Even when I didn't have it going or I missed some bunnies or we messed up on defense and they made their push, especially in the third quarter. 

"He was our leader for that second half and he did it all so, he's gonna be a Hall of Famer one day."

Jokic scored 17 of Denver's 30 second-half points, the highest percentage of a team's points scored in the second half of a Game 7 over the past 20 years, to receive praise from head coach Michael Malone.

"We are not in a Game 7 without Jamal, but quietly Nikola Jokic was having an outstanding series as well," Malone said. 

"And you knew that they would take away Jamal Murray, they tried to do different things tonight, that was their adjustment. 

"We were prepared for that. We knew they would try to get the ball out of his hands. That is when you need Nikola to step up."

Jokic himself was expecting a tense series, just maybe not the levels of excitement it provided.

"Before the series started I felt it was going to be an interesting series. But after 3-1 I didn't think it was going to be this interesting," Jokic said. 

"So I'm glad that we won the game and I'm glad that we won the series."

Mitchell's 33 three-pointers marked a record for a playoff series and he was proud of the way the team battled after trailing by 19 points in the first half.

"We fought hard and came back. I'd go to war with any one of these guys in the locker room, any one of these coaches," Mitchell, who was helped off the floor by Murray at the buzzer, said. 

"We could've easy chalked it up in the first half. We have grit and fight. That's all you can really ask for."

Mitchell added that the emotions following the defeat were nothing compared to what the families who have been affected by police brutality and racism are going through.

"I can only imagine. I wanted to say that. I wanted to get that out there," he said. 

"The way I'm feeling right now is nothing compared to that. I appreciate the NBA and everybody in this league for continuing to push that message. 

"It's not stopping. I just wanted to say that. Whether we won or lost, that was going to be the first thing said. I should've said it first."

Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse criticised the officiating in their Game 2 loss to the Boston Celtics, saying the referees "took very good care" of Jayson Tatum.

The Celtics moved 2-0 up in the Eastern Conference semi-final series with a 102-99 victory over reigning champions the Raptors on Tuesday.

Tatum scored 34 points and Marcus Smart hit five three-pointers in the space of just over three minutes in the fourth quarter to propel Boston to success.

Tatum hit all 14 of his free throws – two shy of the makes from the line by Toronto as a whole and just five fewer than the amount they were awarded.

In his post-game news conference, Nurse said: "The only frustrating part about it is this. He shoots 14 free throws, which is as much as our whole team shoots. That's the frustrating part.

"I think our guys were working hard on him and we were doing a pretty good job. He did make some good shots, they were obviously getting him the ball a lot, getting him some space.

"We could have helped a little bit better here and there. But they took very good care of him tonight."

Pascal Siakam had a layup blocked by Smart with 35.8 seconds remaining and then turned the ball over by stepping out of bounds, but Nurse felt the whistle should have been blown beforehand.

Asked about those incidents, he said: "I just see them as unfortunate, to be honest with you. I think Smart fouled the s*** out of him, so there's one for you.

"Then we ran a good play there, it looked like it was open for the corner three. It's not one we use a lot but you're saving it for that kinda situation, it's just unfortunate.

"The court has a different feel to it, there have been a lot of guys stepping on the sideline in the bubble. That's probably just unfortunate."

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