Tip-In: Celtics Edge Raptors in Pre-Season Play

Even if it had been broadcast on the usual networks, this one wouldn't have been pretty to watch as Boston beat Toronto 91 to 87 using mostly scrubs...

So if the Toronto Raptors' thrashing of the Phoenix Suns in the team's first pre-season match was a sign of thing to come defensively, was last night's loss to Boston a sign of things to come at the other end of the court?

Fans who gathered around the radio or various online feeds saw/heard a Dino-squad that shot percentage points below 40% from the field on the night, hit only 16 of 27 free-throws, and put up only 39 points in the first half.  The effort was there, but the ball just wasn't going down.

Luckily the Celtics had some issues of their own, including 22 turnovers which helped to keep things close, but it's admittedly hard to be too happy about much else in this one.  The bottom line is that Toronto was leading late in the game, played four of their five starters in the final few minutes against Boston's scrubs, and yet still couldn't get the job done.

Oh, and by scrubs, I'm not even talking Nate Robinson and Delonte West, although both played big roles in the win. I'm talking Stephane Lasme, Luke Harangody and Von Wafer, guys who may not even make the team for Boston!

No, there wasn't a lot to smile about after this one, aside from there being some Raptors' action to watch in some format.

Andrea Bargnani was worse in this one than the last, DeMar DeRozan regressed to his first-year self, Amir Johnson was owned by 56 year old Jermaine O'Neal, Jose Calderon couldn't hit a shot and Joey Dorsey looked much more like a D Leaguer than someone competing for a top 8 spot with the Raps.

Bargs was the worst of the bunch though and between his horrific offensive display (1 of 8 for 4 points) and the rest of his game (as many turnovers as rebounds and a team-high minus 12 in 26 minutes), readers participating in last night's live-blog were calling for David Andersen over him.

Ugh.

The concerning thing though for me wasn't that Andrea only scored 4 points, it's that DeRozan, Weems, Jack and Barbosa all attempted more shots.

Yes, if your shot isn't falling, give up the rock, but watching Andrea closely last night you saw a player who was getting the ball in positions that weren't exactly ideal for scoring most of the time, nor did it look like he was comfortable knowing where his offence was going to come from.

I'm hoping therefore some of this malaise will work itself out as the team continues to play more games.  Because if not, it's hard not to think that there's credence to the theory that instead of playing in Bosh's shadow, Chris actually made the game easier for Andrea.

And that's not good.

Toronto put up a ton of points against Phoenix but last night's game to me, pre-season or not, was what I expect the average Raptors' match to be like this coming season; the defence is decent enough for the team to hang around, but the club has trouble scoring enough to get the win.

And that's why it's crucial that "Il Mago" gets going.

The same can be said for some of the other Raptors like DeRozan and even Amir Johnson.  These guys are expected to have major impacts on the court and as a whole that just didn't happen last night.

Of course the Boston Celtics themselves had something to do with this.  The team's defence is always solid, and the bulk of the team has been together long enough that they simply go out and run their stuff.  Even in limited minutes, KG, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce were quite effective, and while they barely played in the second half, they pretty much did whatever they wanted in the first.  (Boston shot over 50% from the field in the first half.)

On the plus side for Toronto, I thought Jarrett Jack did his best to keep the game close.

He only had one assist, but had 18 points and 6 boards, and led a nice late-game charge that saw the Raptors briefly snatch the lead from the Celts.  Last game I thought that Linas Kleiza could be the team's best player night-in and night-out this year when all was said and done, but I'm wondering if Jack won't challenge for that title too. There's no question to me though that Jack should be this team's starting point guard, it's just a matter now of who Jay surrounds him with.

The biggest plus last night to me though was the play of Leandro Barbosa, who looked like his 2008 Phoenix self. He hit 7 of his 12 shots, including two 3's, and was generally in attack mode all night.  He's one of the few players on this Raptor-team that can change the pace or feel of a game, and I'm hoping Triano uses him much like he did last night, as both a weapon in transition and the half-court, as well as a decoy once he got hot.  The team is going to have to rely on Leandro's offense many a time this season I'm guessing, so it was good to see him get going in just his second game.

So was this a bit of a reality check type loss?

I'd lean towards yes, however this is the pre-season where Orlando can beat New Orleans 135 to 81, so again, let's not get too carried away.

But I think through two games we've seen some issues that look like they could be trends into the regular season.

Let's hope that some of the negatives ones like the play of Bargnani, end before the real games get going.

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