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The Celtics win again after a close game with the Raptors

The winning streak is at 12 games now.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Raptors came very close to ending the Celtics’ win streak tonight after DeMar DeRozan missed a game-winning jumper with a few ticks left on the clock.

The Raptors received the ball with 13.4 seconds left on the clock and ran a play to get DeRozan isolated on the right wing. The play ended with a contested jumper with Jaylen Brown defending the Raptors’ All-Star wing.

DeRozan took two tough shots in a row in an attempt to grab the lead for the Raptors going into the final seconds of the game. The Celtics turned the ball over before the final possession after Jayson Tatum elbowed Fred VanVleet in the face and was called for an offensive foul.

Still, the Celtics persisted and came out with their 12th straight win of the season without their best offensive player in Kyrie Irving.

If you don’t take the Celtics seriously, start now

They defend, play hard, and play smart. That’s enough to pull even the teams with the least talent above and beyond most. The Celtics are 2-0 without Irving in the lineup and also went 2-0 in Horford’s absence with a concussion.

The Celtics are a real threat to win the East and get to the Finals because of how well they defend. They’ve got length at almost every position and great help defenders in the front court. They’re super-switchy and can survive with their big men playing guards.

They can also live with their wings switching onto big men.

They aren’t afraid of mismatches and that’s a Warriors-esque quality they have despite all the youth on their roster. It’s hard to pinpoint any strong weaknesses to this point with their ability to cover the floor so well.

Their next big challenge will be against the Warriors

The Celtics will play the Nets on Tuesday night in Brooklyn where Irving might make his return, but then on Thursday they’ll test themselves against the Warriors for the first time this season.

If they win in Brooklyn, they’ll be riding a 13-game winning streak when they face Golden State in the TD Garden. The Celtics have been difficult to beat this season, but they’ve got an 8.4 net rating at home.

The Warriors boast the best offense in the league, scoring 116.6 points per 100 possessions, but they’ve been vulnerable this year. If there was ever a spot where their streak would end, it’d be here. But as we’ve seen so far this year, when they’re not on point they can be taken down.

It’ll be an interesting matchup, to say the least.