Raptors in critical situation


    DOWN 0-2 in their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Boston Celtics, the Toronto Raptors know what they are facing. They were here before just a season ago.

    Against the Milwaukee Bucks in the conference finals, the Raptors fell behind 0-2 before winning four straight on their way to an eventual NBA championship. They’ll try to repeat the feat beginning with Game 3 against the Celtics on Thursday night (Friday in Manila) at the NBA bubble near Orlando.

    “I think we should know we shouldn’t give up,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “We know the next game is super critical, but they’re all critical.”

    Thursday’s contest takes on added importance after Toronto blew a 12-point lead late in the third quarter in Tuesday’s 102-99 Game 2 loss. The Celtics outscored the Raptors 32-21 in the fourth behind a 3-pointer explosion from Marcus Smart.

    “We’re pretty pissed right now,” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said after the defeat “We’re down 0-2. But we have to go back and look at the film and understand what we’ve done wrong and look at what we can do better.”

    Clashing in the other game are Denver and the LA Clippers, with Nuggets coach Michael Malone saying: “They have terrific defenders, Kawhi (Leonard), Paul George (and) Patrick Beverley. The last time they played us they got into us. Very physical team, so we’ll have our hands full with that matchup.”

    The two clubs meet in Game 1 on Thursday (Friday in Manila) inside the NBA bubble near Orlando.

    The third-seeded Nuggets rallied from the brink of elimination and advanced with an 80-78 victory in Game 7 of their first round series against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday.

    Toronto heads back to the drawing board for the second time in the series after losing 112-94 in a disastrous Game 1. Poor shot selection has been a theme for the Raptors thus far, most notably from deep, where they have made just 21 of their 80 attempts (26.3 percent). Overall, Toronto is shooting 38.5 percent as a club, compared to 44.7 percent for Boston.