Bill Sy: These are not your father’s Raptors. Last season, the plodding Toronto offense were 22nd in the league in 3FGA’s at 24.3 per game; this year, head coach Dwane Casey has modernized their attack and they’re now shooting 32.0 3FGA’s per game. The Raptors are in the lower third of the league in 3FG% (35.3%), but their new focus has opened up the floor for Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, and their young active bench.
Not one number can explain away Boston’s dismal effort level in last night’s game, but one stat quantifies how the Raptors hammered the Celtics’ defense: 17-for-36 from behind the arc. Those are the most makes they’ve given up all season. Boston has won games when teams have shot well from 3—in fact, they’re 7-1 even when they’ve given up 13 or more threes—but what last night showed me was how much Boston will have to change their focus if they meet Toronto in the playoffs.
The Raptors are looking for shooters off pin downs, blind screens, kick outs, and high pick-and-rolls. It’s just one game, but the Celtics have two more against them in the regular season and then a potential playoff series and it should be a point of emphasis. For example, the Warriors lead the league in 3FG% at 39.3%; against Boston, that’s dropped to 33.9%.
Bill Sy: Tale of two cities...
“When adversity hits, we go our separate ways” - Isaiah Thomas— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) February 7, 2018
Very much a team loss, but Kyrie Irving put the blame on his shoulders: "I just need to be better. This one is mainly on me." https://t.co/KmJq0obpVI— Jay King (@ByJayKing) February 7, 2018
Keith Smith: Burn the tape. Never talk of it again. Get back to work on Thursday in Washington.
Alex Kungu: Relax. The Toronto Raptors may very well be better than the Celtics, but tonight is not the night to freak out. The team was simply flat and got outplayed by a team that has been fantastic at home. Boston still hasn’t gotten a chance to play the Raptors at full strength and until then we shouldn’t have any real strong opinions about this matchup. On to Washington.
Bill Sy: After the game, Brad Stevens talked about how effective Kyle Lowry was:
“First of all, we have to be there on his pull-ups,” Stevens said. “We have to be there in transition. We have to be way more urgent than we were off of screens. He got going and he cooked us, and I thought we were not urgent enough. I didn’t think we were urgent enough the whole day, but I thought clearly on him we missed the boat big time.”
You know who we could have used last night? This guy:
Bobby Manning: Many are tossing aside tonight’s result as an anomaly. I’m not. I’ve been worried about the Raptors, quietly, all season long. It’s hard to shake a perception and Toronto is facing that issue, but they’re legitimately different this year. It’s more than just shooting threes, though they’re definitely doing that. They have two definitive starting and bench rotations, with completely different approaches that threw Boston’s defense off once the VanFleet album attacked them head-on. Brad Stevens knew they’d see that two-pronged attack and it still threw Boston off. Dwane Casey watched throughout the second as his bench rode Toronto to domination, before Kyle Lowry (notoriously injured) returned after a long break with a sizable lead. Sure, the Raps won’t 30-piece the Celtics next time, but this group could absolutely beat Boston in a 7-game series and even Cleveland for that matter. More to note: Celts have won just one game in the Stevens era in Toronto and the Raptors now only sit one game back of BOS for the one seed.