The Toronto Raptors appear to be slow starters. On the second night of a home-road back to back, the Raptors were given all they could handle by a tough Celtics team that has been competitive in every game in spite of its record. After last night's porous defensive effort, Amir's continued injury absence was a cause for concern heading into tonight's game. Once news came that Jonas Valanciunas would be out as well, this had the look of a game the Raptors would struggle to win.
In the first quarter, the Celtics were able to do exactly what the Thunder and Heat managed in the two games prior to this -- namely, drop 30+ points in the first quarter. The Celtics led 35-23 after one frame. A day after allowing OKC to shoot 80 percent in the first quarter, the Raptors tightened up their defence to the tune of allowing a FG% of... 79 percent.
At this point of the game, Kyle Lowry absolutely took over for the Raptors offensively, scoring 31 points through 3 quarters. With DeMar DeRozan having a tough shooting night dealing with the Celtics' guards, Lowry's efficient offence was precisely what the Raptors needed to get back in the game. He was doing it in style too, hitting this (via Raptors Republic) buzzer-beating shot to close out the first half.
After gradually chipping away at the Celtics' lead, the Raptors finally took their first lead of the night (since the first basket of the game, but who cares about that) on a buzzer-beater to end the third quarter. With the Raptors resting Lowry for crunch time, the Celtics stayed in the game in the final frame. Then, with the game tied, Lowry came up with this defensive gem to give the Raptors the lead for good:
Lowry picks Smart's pocket, DeRozan dunks on Olynyk's soul, Raptors win, holy crap http://t.co/zoGFvMzSTv— James Herbert (@outsidethenba) November 6, 2014
Lowry had 35 points on only 17 shots. DeMar struggled, putting up 24 on nine of 25 shooting. The Raptors received a nice little boost of 32 points from the bench unit. For the Celtics, Rondo registered his 19th career triple double, and Jared Sullinger once again tortured the Raptors with a 19-16 stat-line.
So the Raptors come up with yet another ugly win, but have still managed to open the campaign with a 4-1 record. Worrying trends that we hope get resolved as the season progresses:
- Amir's health
- Terrence Ross... anyone seen him?
- Defensive woes to begin games
- Getting out-rebounded by massive margins