Seeking their first win of the season against the Raptors, the Celtics received a gift in the form of Kyle Lowry's absence. Toronto's all-star guard was nursing an elbow injury, and it gave the Celtics a huge edge in the point guard matchup. Isaiah Thomas made that readily apparent with his performance. He exploded out of the gate by scoring the first 7 points for the Celtics. His scooping floater over Jonas Valanciunas was fantastic and seemed tough to top. Naturally he followed that up with another absurd layup just minutes later.
DeMar DeRozan picked up the slack early with Lowry missing. The Celtics made him work though. He was usually checked by Bradley or Smart, and Boston wasn't afraid to double him either. He scored 10 points in the first, but was pretty inefficient doing so.
Marcus Smart's shooting slump continued. He missed from mid-range, he missed at the rim, and he missed from three. He finished a grisly 1/8 from the field. He played strong defense in the game, but his shooting is just brutal right now.
Terry Rozier added some excitement to the game with his pace off the bench. He was sprinting up the court like Isaiah, and even hit a Thomas-like floater in traffic.
Boston struggled to score for most of the second quarter. Isaiah was held scoreless until the last minutes, and nobody else really stepped up. But the defense held strong. The game stayed remarkably close, as neither team led by more than 3 points. Boston shot considerably better than Toronto in the first half, but the Raptors took advantage of turnovers and rebounding to gain extra possessions. They attempted 12 more field goals than Boston in the half.
After a 46-46 stalemate in the first half, Boston jumped out to quick lead in the third. The defense was on point. Avery Bradley did a nice job fighting through screens and traffic to stay with DeRozan. Boston also made a concerted effort to force the ball away from DeRozan and Valanciunas. The Cs were quick to trap them when the opportunities arose. This strategy was pretty effective thanks to some quick rotations and solid team defense.
On the offensive end, Evan Turner was feeling it. He dropped 13 points in the quarter. He did some serious damage in the pick-and-roll game, with some nice mid range shots and a flashy assist to Amir Johnson. He even buried a corner three. That capped a huge run that put Boston ahead by 9.
Boston entered the fourth with a 7-point lead. Isaiah Thomas and Evan Turner were on the bench, and the offense just cratered. The Cs struggled to create good looks, and couldn't finish the few solid chances they had. Boston went the first 4 minutes of the quarter without making a basket. They weren't helped out any by the officiating, but you can't pin it all on that.
After the Raptors pulled within one point, Marcus Smart broke the fourth quarter shutout with a nice driving layup. Then Isaiah Thomas took over. He knocked down two threes and added an assist to put the Celtics back in control of the game. Toronto couldn't respond, and Boston came away with the win.
Thomas and Turner
Isaiah Thomas had a fantastic game, with 23 points and 4 assists. He did take a nasty fall after being fouled in the air though. It looked like his lower back/tailbone area was hurting, so hopefully its not anything too serious.
Evan Turner finished with 17 points and 7 assists. He saved most of his impact for the second half, and it was huge in giving Boston the win tonight. He's strung together some impressive performances since becoming part of the starting lineup. With Jae Crowder expected to miss the next few games, Boston could use few more games like this on their upcoming west coast road trip.