Toronto Raptors survive best game of the NBA play-offs so far, while Hawks take a shillelagh to Celtics

Just when a familiar doom was certain for the Toronto Raptors, they pulled out a miraculous fourth-quarter comeback to move one step closer to advancing.

Bismack Biyombo of the Toronto Raptors celebrates a dunk late in the second half of Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Indiana Pacers during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on April 26, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images/AFP
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Throughout the NBA play-offs, The National's resident NBA dudes Jonathan Raymond and Kevin Jeffers will be breaking down the key talking points of the night before, plus looking around the scope of the league. Here are our NBA Play-off takeaways.

• Read more: 2016 NBA play-offs: Previews, predictions and what we learnt day-by-day

Tuesday’s scores

• Toronto 102, Indiana 99 | Raptors lead series 3-2

• Atlanta 110, Boston 83 | Hawks lead series 3-2

New Jurassic Era

The NBA team with the pre-historic nickname has nothing in the way of their own history. The 2015-16 version of the Toronto Raptors won 56 regular-season games, the most ever for a franchise that’s been around since 1995. They’ve only advanced past the first round of the play-offs once, in 2000 (naturally by beating the Knicks), and they’ve never won a best-of-7 series.

This is their third straight postseason, and expectations for the East’s No 2 seed are high. So high that yet another first-round exit could cause some heads to roll and force Drake’s favourite club to start over. Indiana’s Paul George – Public Enemy No 1 in Canada – was looking the part of spoil-sport. He’s the best player in the series, and he’s put the No 7 Pacers in a position to pull off the postseason’s biggest upset. When the fourth quarter started and George’s Pacers were up 13 points, it looked like they were going to take a shocking 3-2 series lead.

Then the fourth quarter happened, and it might be the most memorable period in the Raptors’ short history.

Norman Powell’s breakaway dunk with 6:32 left tied it at 92 and wiped away a Pacers lead that once reached 17 points, and Demar Derozan hit a huge 3 (not his usual strength) with 4:16 left to put Toronto up 95-92, a lead they held on to for dear life the rest of the way. Derozan finished with 34 points, a welcome departure from the 13.3 he had averaged in the series’ first four games.

Raptors coach Dwayne Casey sent out a small and unfamiliar lineup in the fourth, and it apparently worked, as Toronto went on a 21-2 tear to start the final quarter, ripping the series back in their favour.

But it looked like that would all be erased at the buzzer, when Indiana’s Solomon Hill appeared to hit a 3 to tie it at 102. Replay officials determined Hill’s shot barely (and I mean barely) was still in his hands when the clock was all zeroes, and the 3-2 series lead officially belonged to Toronto.

Now we go to Game 6 in Indiana on Friday. As I’m probably the millionth to say, teams that take a 3-2 series lead win 85 per cent of NBA play-off series. Such odds have rarely been in Toronto’s favour these past couple decades. While it’s been a tougher battle with Indiana than expected, these Raptors can finally start re-writing the franchise’s history.

Beat down in A-Town

The other Eastern Conference play-off game Tuesday night wasn’t so close. The Atlanta Hawks thoroughly demolished the Boston Celtics to take a 3-2 series lead.

It didn’t look like it was going to go that way at first, as Atlanta and Boston both struggled to hit any shots, especially from deep. Atlanta managed only 15 points in the first quarter.

That all changed midway through the second and on through a white-hot Atlanta third quarter. The Hawks outscored the Celtics 74-44 in the middle two periods. Both teams mostly played bench players in the fourth, so unlikely was the prospect of a Celtics comeback.

Atlanta’s second-ranked defence demoralized Boston’s one-man offence by keying on Isaiah Thomas, who finished with just 7 points and was a putrid minus-33 in 29 minutes. He actually left the game early after rolling his ankle in the fourth and didn’t return, but it seemed the Celtics were just being cautious with their star with the result long out of question.

Unlike Game 4 when Paul Millsap basically carried the Hawks on his back, the entire team looked unstoppable. Mike Scott came off the bench with 17 points, the most of five Hawks who scored double-digits. .

The home team has won every game this series, which bodes well for Boston as they host Game 6 on Friday. But Tuesday night’s loss was so demoralizing that it wouldn’t be a shock to see Atlanta wrap this thing up on the road.

Pivotal night ahead

Both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are done for the Clippers. Will that be enough for the Blazers to win the series? Game 5 is in Los Angeles tonight, and 30 minutes later upstate the Stephen Curry-less Golden State Warriors look to close out the Houston Rockets in another Game 5.

If the Warriors win handily, fans might exhale and think the wait for Curry to return might not be so bad. But if they struggle or even lose, things could get intriguing.

Back in the East, the Hornets and Heat continue their entertaining series back in Miami. It’s another series where the home team has won every game, and if the upstarts from Charlotte change that trend then Miami will have their backs against the wall.

Tonight will be a telling night all around.

Tonight’s games

• Chartlotte at Miami, 2am | Series tied at 2

• Portland at L.A. Clippers, 6am | Series tied at 2

• Houston at Golden State, 6.30am | Warriors lead series 3-1

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