Celtics

Robert Williams, defense lifts Celtics over Raptors: Here’s what happened in case you missed it

The Celtics have now won three of their last four games.

Celtics Raptors
Fred Van Vleet of the Toronto Raptors defends Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Celtics suffocated the Raptors defensively on Wednesday, claiming a 104-88 victory that earned Ime Udoka his first win at TD Garden.

Here’s what happened in case you missed.

Describe what happened in one sentence

The Celtics survived a poor shooting night from Jayson Tatum and a ton of turnovers by clamping the Raptors defensively and moving the ball nicely.

What was the big story line?

The Celtics have now looked like an elite defensive team in three of the last four games (and the one less impressive game was their loss to the Mavericks — a third road game in four nights). As the Celtics adjust to coach Ime Udoka’s preferred style of play on the defensive end, it seems to be clicking at a time when the team really needed to build up some wins and some confidence.

Who was the best player?

Robert Williams — 16 points, 13 rebounds (eight offensive), two steals

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Wednesday’s victory was a team effort, but Williams dominated the glass in the first half against the Raptors and helped the Celtics build a nice lead. The Raptors had no answer for his size and athleticism, and he kept a lot of plays alive as the Celtics tried to find any semblance of offense.

What’s the hot take of the game?

The Celtics have found an identity as a gritty, defensive-minded team.

Is it fair?

The Celtics should certainly hope so. They have plenty of guard defense, and both Robert Williams and Al Horford bottle up defenders in the paint. Their switching makes a lot more sense, and players are starting to move on a string rather than searching.

If the defense over the last two weeks is real, the Celtics have quite a bit of upside as a team that can afford to make mistakes offensively because they can get the ball back on the defensive end. When Jaylen Brown gets healthy — and when Tatum pulls himself out of this odd early-season shooting slump — the two-way potential of this team is intriguing.

What’s a fun fact for the water cooler?

The Celtics have now held opponents below 90 points three times this season. Only two other teams have achieved that: The Bulls (who have done it four times) and the Spurs — both top 10 teams defensively, according to Cleaning the Glass.

When is the next one?

The Celtics take on the Bucks at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at T.D. Garden.

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