Coming off of back-to-back big wins over the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks, the Raptors got a taste of their own conference. Entering tonight, only four teams in the Eastern Conference had a record above .500, the Celtics being one of them. Sitting second in the East, Boston’s first matchup with the Raptors this season looked to set the bar for this teams expectations as they seemed to have finally found their scoring touch.
Early in the game, the Raptors looked like they could hang. They kept it close in the first quarter, only trailing by 4 points by the end of it with the score being 30 - 26. While the shooting wasn’t great, Toronto made up for it by getting to the rim and scoring the ball from close. Going bucket for bucket with the Celtics isn’t always the best option, but early in the game it kept them within reach.
Even throughout the second quarter, Toronto was able to score the ball enough to keep their deficit reasonable. However, when they first came into the game, the Raptors bench seemed to flounder scoring the ball. Relying on the PnR duo of Dennis Schroder and Jakob Poeltl, Toronto continued to work the inside and the Raptors only trailed 55 - 46 at halftime.
Thats where the wheels fell off, and Toronto’s shooting went completely cold. The Raptors attempted and missed a lot of threes, leading them to finish the night shooting 10-for-37 from behind the arc. This is where going bucket-for-bucket with a team that boasts the talent Boston does catches up with you. The Celtics immediately pulled away with consistent scoring, while the Raptors couldn’t seem to buy a jump shot make. Their solution? Keep taking them. And what happened? They kept missing them.
The fourth quarter began with the Celtics leading 88 - 71 and the Raptors threw in the towel. Beginning the final frame with only two of their starters on the court, Toronto didn’t make a basket for over 3 minutes. Darko Rajakovic then pulled OG Anunoby and Jakob Poeltl, letting the bench players finish out the game. Boston on the other hand, did not. They increased their lead upwards of 30 points in the fourth, before committing to garbage time and putting in their bench for the final five minutes of the game.
Malachi Flynn and Chris Boucher scored the ball well which was encouraging to see. They reduced the Celtics lead during garbage time to the eventual final score of 117 - 94.
In that final quarter however, things started getting chippy. With the game already out of hand and Toronto accepting its loss, Joe Mazzulla challenged a call which led the Raptors bench and Darko Rajakovic to exchange some words with him.
Things getting chippy?— THE SHIFT (@theshift_sports) November 12, 2023
Darko Rajakovic and the Raptors appear to take exception with the Celtics' decision to call a coach's challenge in a blowout. pic.twitter.com/UdhSxrmfoR
On top of the blowout loss, Toronto has some bulletin board material to fire themselves up for the rematch with Boston on Friday night. The broadcast (and I’m sure the bench as well) was quick to point out how long Tatum, Brown and Porzingis stayed in the game, despite Toronto playing the end of their bench. It will surely be an interesting one on Friday when the Celtics visit Scotiabank Arena for the first time this season.
In the meantime, the Raptors head home to face the Washington Wizards on Monday night. Washington has a record of 2 - 6 and sitting second last in the East, so the Raptors will look to bounce back to their winning ways after the tough defeat tonight.