The Boston Celtics entered Tuesday night’s matchup with the Toronto Raptors coming off of a low-effort loss to the Chicago Bulls. Toronto was also attempting to get back into the win column following a loss to the Orlando Magic. Tuesday’s primetime matchup was a showcase of the solid product that Toronto has put together and everything that’s wrong with this year’s Celtics.
Jaylen Brown was very involved early off the bench, asserting himself on offense by putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rim. His aggressive play allowed him to grab 7 first-quarter points on 2/2 shooting. Brown also ran and saw the floor very well in the opening frame. He was arguably the best Celtic out there in the game’s first twelve minutes.
Brad Stevens gave Daniel Theis some minutes in the early going, but brought Al Horford back onto the floor to match minutes with Marc Gasol after just one Gasol-Theis possession. We’ve seen Stevens do this a lot recently, specifically with the likes of Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
To go along with Brown’s aggressive play, the Celtics got to the line seven times in the first quarter, which is much more than normal. They also assisted on 7 of their initial 12 field goal attempts. Six players had two or more first-quarter shots. This would be the last of Boston’s positive play.
Three straight threes helped Toronto jump out to a quick 13-0 run early in the second quarter, that led to a Celtics timeout. All of this came with Kyrie Irving on the bench, as Boston seemed a bit out of sorts. Things didn’t change out of the timeout, as the Raptors run stretched out to 18-0. Irving and Robert Williams were inserted with just under seven minutes left in the half to stop the bleeding. Time Lord would immediately score Boston’s first field goal of the quarter, but that was the only good thing to come out of the huddle.
The Celtics had five turnovers during the ugly second quarter, where Toronto ultimately pulled out to a 29-7 run. With three minutes left before the break, Boston trailed by 20. They finished the second quarter with 13 points on 4/15 shooting, which was their lowest scoring second quarter of the season. The Raptors had runs of 18-0 and 11-0, thanks to the Celtics committing eight turnovers. They made only four shots while being outscored 36-13 during this span. Boston trailed 66-45 at the half.
The Celtics began the second half moving the ball really well. This combined with a burst of energy from Marcus Smart helped them jump out to a 7-2 run out of the break. Smart had 4 rebounds in the first 2:49 of the half. Despite the quick start, Toronto refused to let Boston back in. The Celtics certainly didn’t help themselves, failing to adjust in multiple areas.
Body language and effort has been a problem at times for this year’s team, and Tuesday night was a prime example.
Losing doesn’t bother me.— VP Juice (@ColeyMick) February 27, 2019
Letting a guy go coast to coast down the middle of the floor with no one even trying to step in front of him bothers me pic.twitter.com/lNd17yWezy
There was also a multitude of issues from an X’s and O’s standpoint, but all of them come back to a lack of adjusting. Pascal Siakam’s corner threes stick out as much as any. The Celtics did not adjust while Siakam killed them from deep. It wasn’t only his perimeter game however. The 24-year old finished with a game-high 25 points and 8 rebounds on 10/16 shooting.
Boston trailed by 31 with just over a minute left in the third quarter. This one would never get close. Toronto would ultimately win 118-95.