The Toronto Raptors finally hosted an NBA game, and for two minutes, it looked like it was going to be a celebratory affair. Unfortunately the Boston Celtics awoke from their post-Christmas slumber and outplayed the Raptors for the final 46!
Yes, it was a disappointing game, but, not a surprising one. The Raptors, after all, are shorthanded, and the Celtics, even though they were down a starter in Marcus Smart, are a damn good team.
That means there isn’t a whole lot to take away from this one, but let’s do the thoughts anyway!
We’ll Always Have 10-0
What a start, right? For those glorious two minutes, it seemed like the Raptors’ magical 2019 had a little bit left to give us. A 10-0 run to start? Were we really gonna run the Celtics out of the building on our first-ever Christmas Day game? Would the Raptors finally dispatch a contending team with ease? Were the Celtics overrated, hung over, or both!?
The crowd sure thought so. It was as loud as a playoff game in there when Kyle Lowry banged home that second three-pointer.
Alas. It wasn’t meant to be. The Raptors were outscored 28-9 the rest of the quarter, and Lowry only hit two more shots all day.
Still, it was a nice moment — like waking up on Christmas Day and seeing all the presents under the tree.
And then finding out all you’re getting is underwear.
Might be Time to Adjust the D
I wrote about this in yesterday’s preview and recap — how the Raptors allow space on the perimeter to dig down in the paint, trusting their defenders to be able to rotate back out to shooters.
That scheme just doesn’t seem to work as well without Pascal Siakam, Norman Powell and Marc Gasol.
With no timetable for any of those players to return, it might make sense for Nick Nurse to tweak a few things, and have the guards stay out on shooters a little more and concede more space inside.
Too Much McCaw
As usual I preface this with the note that I am not an NBA coach and that Nick Nurse knows his personnel better than I do. And of course, the Raptors are shorthanded so players are not being put in optimal situations.
But I just don’t see the value in playing Patrick McCaw for 32.5 minutes, in a game, in his first 25 minutes, he went 0-for-4, didn’t record an assist or steal, and grabbed only one rebound.
I understand that McCaw has value on defense (although that claim seemed dubious last night), and that you don’t need to score to make an impact (like Malcolm Miller in the Dallas comeback). But when the Raptors are missing two of their best scorers, and when a good defensive team like Boston is locking down Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet, the Raptors need to get something from the starting SF spot.
Ah Yes, Noon Starts
It’s been a while since the Raptors have tipped off at noon, but it didn’t take these two teams long to remind us why these early tip-offs can sometimes be... less than entertaining. The two teams combined for 36 turnovers, many of the sloppy, unforced variety.
Ultimately, it’s probably a good thing the Raptors had the noon slot. It probably had the fewest viewers, so as few people as possible saw them play, and as such, we were likely spared a multitude of hot takes about them being frauds or unworthy of the day or whatever (while ignoring that they were missing three of their top seven guys).
Small favours, right?
Game Ops Does it Right (Again)
As with opening night and Kawhi Leonard’s return, the Raptors and Scotiabank Arena brought exactly the right mood to the day. Everything was Christmas-themed, and you really felt like it was a special event — which it was, despite the final score. The giveaway shirts were awesome, the intro video with the players in Santa hats was fun, and having everything gold-tinged fit the theme nicely.
But, as noted by many on Twitter including our own Sean Woodley, the NBA definitely missed an opportunity by forcing the teams into their City Edition jerseys — after all, wouldn’t a red versus green matchup been ideal for the day?
Props to the Celtics for their Christmas plaid warmups though!