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Video: Celtics defense allows Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard to just walk into the lane to set up Serge Ibaka

Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka

Friday night produced one of the biggest matchups in the Eastern Conference thus far when the Boston Celtics hosted the Toronto Raptors in the TD Garden. In a contest that featured arguably the top two contenders in the East, there was an uncharacteristic moment of an overly laid-back Celtics defense that allowed Raptors star Kawhi Leonard to casually walk into the lane with minimal resistance.

There appeared to be some confusion between Gordon Hayward and Al Horford as they tried to defend (to no avail) Leonard from the top of the key. For some reason, Horford kept backing off while Hayward seemed to have thought that defending Kawhi from behind was a good idea. This allowed Leonard to casually drop an assist to a wide-open Serge Ibaka who willingly obliged by draining an uncontested mid-range jumper.

Despite the momentary lapse of judgment, the C’s defense was actually on point for the better part of the ballgame. In fact, they held the Raptors to just nine points in the extra period, resulting in a 123-116 overtime victory for the home side.

Leonard was on his game tonight, scoring a team-high 31 points (11-25 FG, 9-11 FT) with a game-high 15 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two turnovers in 43 minutes of play. However, his heroics were not enough to overpower a feisty Celtics team which was led by Kyrie Irving’s season-high 43 points.

With the loss, the Raptors have fallen to 12-4, but are still comfortably sitting atop the Eastern Conference. Leonard and company will look to bounce back on Saturday night as they take on the Chicago Bulls in the second game of their current four-game road trip.