When it was announced that DeMar DeRozan would sit out tonight's game against the Boston Celtics, it became obvious that the Toronto Raptors were not overly interested in chasing the franchise's first 50-win season, nor the 3-seed in the Eastern Conference. With the 95-93 loss, the 50-win season is toast and the Raptors will need a win tomorrow night and a Chicago Bulls loss to climb out of fourth. Oh well.
As for tonight's game, it was a case of déjà vu; the Celtics buried the Raptors with a heroic shot in the dying seconds of the game, just as they did a mere 10 days ago in Toronto. The last-second shot by Jae Crowder was a very difficult, heavily-contested look and the Celts had the luck of the Irish on the make, but it never should've come down to that play for Toronto in the first place.
The Raptors blew a 15-point first-half lead, turned the ball over 18 times, and allowed a ridiculous 17 offensive rebounds. The Celtics played the Raptors with fierce, smothering defence all night long, regularly leading Toronto's ballhandlers into difficult and hopeless late-clock situations. It was Boston's feisty and omnipresent rookie guard, Marcus Smart, that led that charge:
Marcus Smart is everywhere— William Lou (@william_lou) April 15, 2015
Smart is EVERYWHERE— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) April 15, 2015
Marcus Smart— Nate Jones (@JonesOnTheNBA) April 15, 2015
Kyle Lowry (16 points, 6 for 20 from the field) and Lou Williams (16 points, 3 for 13 from the field) both fell victim to Smart's aggressive defence at various points in this contest and the obvious rust in Lowry's game is starting to become a big concern heading into the playoffs. He was an Eastern Conference All-Star starter this year, right? That seems like it was so long ago now.
There were a few positives for the Raptors in this game, though:
- They held the Celtics to 38 percent shooting from the field and 22 percent from long range.
- This was their third opponent in four games to score fewer than 100 points.
- Amir Johnson returned from a four-game absence and posted eight points, eight boards, and two blocks in an effective 16 minutes.
- The Raptors attacked the rim on two late-game plays out of a timeout, exploiting the Celtics' lack of a rim protector instead of, well...
Yes, call a timeout so Casey can draw Lou Williams' face on his whiteboard and circle it a couple dozen times.— Russell Peddle (@rustypedalbike) April 15, 2015
Let's go for 49, I guess! Franchise records are still fun and exciting, right?
What did you think of the game? Are you sad that the Raptors won't win 50 games? How do you feel about the growing likelihood that Toronto faces the Washington Wizards in the first round? Jump into the comment section and let us know.