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Why the Raptors gave Celtics the best chance to go all the way

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Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is grateful to the entire Toronto Raptors organization for bringing out the best in his team throughout their grueling seven-game East semis series. The Celtics emerged victorious in the winner-take-all Game 7 on Friday, outlasting the defending champs, 92-87, to advance to the next round.

Following the hard-fought series win, Stevens claimed that the Celtics now have supreme confidence to win it all this year, after surviving the wide array of defensive sequences that Raptors head coach Nick Nurse threw their way. The Celtics tactician also had high praises for Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry.

Brad Stevens’ praise for Nick Nurse is certainly a testament to the Raptors’ bench boss’ amazing talent. The Celtics head coach himself is also widely regarded as one of the brightest basketball minds in the game today.

But Nurse took the Raptors to another level this year after pundits wrote them off even before the season began. Nurse took home the well-deserved Coach of The Year plum this season after leading the Raptors to a 53-19 slate and second-best record in the East.

The Raptors have been regarded as one of the most fundamentally sound defensive units this season, thanks in large part to Nurse’s wide bag of defensive sequences in his playbook. The Celtics can certainly attest to this, as they witnessed firsthand how Toronto adjusted to claw back from being down 2-0 in the series and even forcing a deciding Game 7.

The Celtics’ young core certainly learned a lot from that difficult semis series. Boston will now face the streaking Miami Heat in the East Finals, and Brad Stevens will definitely be ready for anything after seeing it all against Nurse.