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Monday's NBA playoffs: Celtics roll past Raptors for 3-2 lead; Clippers top Nuggets

Associated Press

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 Celtics' Jayson Tatum (0) blocks the shot of Toronto Raptors' Serge Ibaka (9) during the second half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game Monday, Sept. 7, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Boston now leads the series 3-2 and can earn a trip to the East finals on Wednesday.

“We were playing with great purpose," Stevens said. “You could feel that from the get-go."

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.

“The job’s not finished yet," Brown said. “We've still got a lot of work that needs to be done.”

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.

Here’s what Toronto got out of its first 18 possessions: five points on 2-for-15 shooting, a stretch that included everything from missed open layups to airballed contested jumpers, along with five turnovers in the game’s first 8:53.

“I know it sounds crazy .. but I thought our offense was awesome for like the first eight minutes," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “I thought it was awesome. I don't think those shots could have been more open."

They were down 18-5 after all that, and it got worse in a hurry.

Another big scoring run — this time, 23-7 — in the second quarter pushed Boston’s lead from 37-25 to 60-32 late in the half. The Raptors had gone 5-for-6 from the field just before that spurt began and seemed to be getting in a rhythm; they missed 11 of their next 13 shots and things got out of hand.

“Tonight our defense really set up our offense," Walker said. “It worked out for us.”

Toronto outscored Boston 28-25 in the third and it already didn't matter; the Celtics' lead was 87-63 going into the fourth.

“We just didn’t play crisp enough,” Lowry said. “We didn’t look at the rim early enough in the shot clock to attack. But it happens. Now we got to watch the film and make adjustments and play for our lives."

►Remembering Brock: Tatum, a St. Louis native, scrawled “R.I.P Lou Brock” on the sole of his sneakers for Monday’s game. Brock, the Baseball Hall of Famer who helped St. Louis win the World Series twice, died Sunday at the age of 81. Tatum never misses an opportunity to represent his hometown; he often wears Cardinals caps, and even donned a pair of sneakers this season inspired by the 2019 Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues — who just happened to beat the Boston Bruins for that title.

More NBA playoffs

L.A. Clippers 113, Denver 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 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.

►NBA fines Beverley: The NBA fined Clippers guard Patrick Beverley $25,000 on Monday for verbally abusing a game official in Game 2.

The incident took place Saturday night with 1:04 remaining in what became a 110-101 loss for the Clippers. Beverley was demonstrably upset with a foul call against him four seconds earlier, then unsuccessfully tried to take a charge when play resumed and got called for a blocking foul.

Beverley then got two technical fouls as he argued to no avail. It became his second ejection of the season and his first of the playoffs.

It’s also his second $25,000 fine of the season; he got the first in October for throwing the ball into the stands after the Clippers beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the opening game of the season for both clubs.

Conference semifinals

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Miami 3, Milwaukee 1

Monday, Aug. 31: Miami 115, Milwaukee 104

Wednesday, Sept. 2: Miami 116, Milwaukee 114

Friday, Sept. 4: Miami 115, Milwaukee 100

Sunday, Sept. 6: Milwaukee 118, Miami 115, OT

Tuesday, Sept. 8: Miami vs. Milwaukee, 6:30 p.m.

x-Thursday, Sept. 10: Milwaukee vs. Miami, TBD

x-Saturday, Sept. 12: Miami vs. Milwaukee, TBD

Boston 3, Toronto 2

Sunday, Aug. 30: Boston 112, Toronto 94

Tuesday, Sept. 1: Boston 102, Toronto 99

Thursday, Sept. 3: Toronto 104, Boston 103

Saturday, Sept. 5: Toronto 100, Boston 93

Monday, Sept. 7: Boston 111, Toronto 89

Wednesday, Sept. 9: Toronto vs. Boston, 6:30 p.m.

x-Friday, Sept. 11: Boston vs. Toronto, TBD

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Houston 1, L.A. Lakers 1

Friday, Sept. 4: Houston 112, L.A. Lakers 97

Sunday, Sept. 6: L.A. Lakers 117, Houston 109

Tuesday, Sept. 8: L.A. Lakers, vs. Houston, 9 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 10: L.A. Lakers vs. Houston, TBD

Saturday, Sept. 12: Houston vs. L.A. Lakers, TBD

x-Monday, Sept. 14: L.A. Lakers vs. Houston, TBD

x-Wednesday, Sept. 16: Houston vs. L.A. Lakers, TBD

L.A. Clippers 2, Denver 1

Thursday, Sept. 3: L.A. Clippers 120, Denver 97

Saturday, Sept. 5: Denver 110, L.A. Clippers 101

Monday, Sept. 7: L.A. Clippers 13, Denver 107

Wednesday, Sept. 9: L.A. Clippers vs. Denver, 9 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 11: Denver vs. L.A. Clippers, TBD

x-Sunday, Sept. 13: L.A. Clippers vs. Denver, TBD

x-Tuesday, Sept. 15: Denver vs. L.A. Clippers, TBD

x-If necessary