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Five thoughts on last night: Celtics 112, Raptors 106

It was another closely contested Raptors-Celtics matchup, but Boston prevailed, becoming the first team to take down the defending champs.

Five thoughts recap: Boston Celtics 112, Toronto Raptors 106 Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Allow me to join the chorus of Raptors and Celtics fans saying it’s about time these two teams meet up in the playoffs! Raptors-Celtics matchups always seem to be intense affairs, and last night’s — although sloppy, as you’d expect from game number two — was no exception.

A few quick thoughts:

Kyle Lowry PU3ITs, I Missed You

The pull-up three-pointer in transition is a staple of Kyle Lowry’s game, and although Lowry struggled from deep in game one (3-for-11) — only his second game action since thumb surgery — you knew at some point he’d find the range. It came more quickly than I thought, as he bombed at least three PU3ITs last night according to my notes, and ended up 6-for-10 from downtown.

It’s a thrill every time Kyle pulls up like that, so I was happy to see it back in action. And I think maybe he’s been sharing notes with a certain teammate?

Pascal Siakam, Picking up Tricks from Kyle Lowry

Pascal Siakam was a solid three-point shooter from the corners last year, but the old “oh, if only Pascal Siakam could shoot threes, look out” line hasn’t gone away yet — he still needed to be able to hit them above the break.

A few more performances like last night, and maybe we can finally put that narrative to bed. Pascal was 5-for-7 from downtown, and all five makes were from the wing:

  • He dribbled around a Fred VanVleet screen, and launched from the right wing;
  • He pulled up in transition from the left wing;
  • He fired a catch-and-shoot on the left wing off of a Marc Gasol pass;
  • He hit again in transition from the left wing; and
  • He spotted up and drilled one from the right wing.

Even his two misses were from above the break. Let’s hope this is the start of a trend!

My Goodness, That Pass

Let’s bring this Lowry-Siakam love-fest full circle, with this pass that speaks for itself:

The cajones on Kyle Lowry to even throw that pass, to tie the game with 3:40 to go. That’s NBA Champion-level confidence.

I’m Impressed Brown and Tatum

Maybe Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum really are the future of the Celtics franchise. They didn’t seem like it last year, but after putting up matching 25-point, 9-rebound nights against the champs, perhaps they’ve turned things around in the post-Kyrie era. Two things stood out to me:

  • Tatum actually head-faked and side-stepped into a three point shot in the fourth quarter (that he made). He would have gone to the midrange last year. Now, to be fair, earlier in the game he head-faked and stepped into a long two, that he bricked, so he hasn’t lost all of his bad habits. But that late three was smooth, and if he can do that consistently... look out.
  • Brown played solid defense on Siakam all night. Sure, Siakam had 33 points, but 15 of those came on those aforementioned threes — shots that opposing teams are gonna let Siakam take until he can hit them consistently. Brown bodied Siakam up nicely on drives, and made him work for everything inside.

If Tatum can be the all-around offensive weapon and Brown can be the stopper, as the Celtics envision, they’ll be tough to beat.

Marc Gasol Frustration Level: 6.4/10

Is that my frustration, or Marc’s? I think it’s mine. I suspect Marc’s is probably at about an 8.9 or so.

Marc Gasol has been bad in the first two games, that’s all there really is to say. He’s still hesitant to shoot, and when he does decide to shoot, he’s rushing things. He’s 2-for-17 on the year! Meanwhile he’s getting killed on the glass: just nine total rebounds in 57 minutes. Plus he’s been a step slow on D, and hasn’t been getting the benefit of the whistle, much to his consternation.

And from what we know of Marc, I think it’s safe to say that no one is more frustrated in his play than he is.

In one good sign, the Raptors ran several sets last night to get Gasol the ball at the elbow, where he can unlock his passing; he had one nice hi-low dish to Siakam from there late (that should have been an and-1) and a dish out to a curling Lowry for three. Let’s see even more of this!

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Well the champs are 1-1 and given the short rotation, I don’t think it’s too much of a disappointment. Here’s hoping Patrick McCaw and Rondae Hollis Jefferson are back tonight to ease the burden on Toronto’s rotation!