One team entered tonight’s game with plenty to play for, while the other was just obligated to show up. In perhaps one of the most disappointing losses of the franchise history, the Toronto Raptors no-showed this game, as the Boston Celtics’ B-team demolished them the entire game, 121-102.
The Celtics did not have Jaylen Brown, Malcolm Brogdon, Marcus Smart, and even played Jayson Tatum for only one half. What did the Raptors do? They turned up an effort that will make the tanking San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, and Portland Trail Blazers blush. A really embarrassing effort from both ends of the floor, coming from a team with playoff aspirations via the play-in tournament. Tonight, they showed a product that doesn’t have a good handle on their team defense, non-existent offensive execution, and doesn’t play together while plagued with constant effort issues on both ends of the floor.
Hauser said that was the first time he’s had that many dunks since high school. https://t.co/tRjymEXuJY— Jared Weiss (@JaredWeissNBA) April 8, 2023
Pascal Siakam “led” the Raptors with 19 points and four steals, but he was really non-existent for most of the game, especially when the team needed someone to step up and be the guy. Fred VanVleet added 12 points and eight dimes but didn’t push the issue too much, sensing that his teammates pulled a no-show tonight. Precious Achiuwa took advantage of his minutes, netting 16 points and seven boards. But hey, at least the Raptors got Gary Trent Jr. to feel the ball swish through the net for the first time in almost three weeks.
The effort and attention to detail defensively were embarrassing, leading to the Celtics’ 15-for-15 field goal attempts in the first half. The Celtics finished shooting 55.6% from the floor and outrebounded the Raptors 53-35. Coach Joe Mazzula showed Nick Nurse and the Raptors what a “team” looks like, as the Celtics played excellent team defense, AND shared the ball en route to 37 assists.
The Celtics made all 15 of their two-point attempts in the first half tonight, the first team over the last 25 seasons to shoot 100% on two-pointers in a single half (min. 10 attempts). pic.twitter.com/LqyctdQI6t— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 8, 2023
After a gorgeous nutmeg by Siakam to a cutting Poeltl to score the first basket, the Raptors went on their scheduled funk, going 1-for-9 to start the game, allowing the Celtics to methodically go on a 12-2 run to start the game. Nurse called for time and drew up a play for Barnes, but Tatum capitalized on Raptors’ schedule for his personal 6-0 run to push the lead to 19-4. The Celtics continued to clamp down the paint, and a Sam Hauser trifecta forced Nurse to use his second timeout to stop the bleeding, with the Celtics up 24-7. VanVleet started to assert his will because no one else would, and a 5-0 run momentarily slowed down the Celtics’ offense. However, the offensive rebounding effort wasn’t there tonight, and they allowed the Celtics to push the lead back to 34-16 after the first period.
More brickfest for the Raptors to start the second period, and if not for Chris Boucher, the Celtics could’ve built a 30-point lead, as even the Celtics bench is running a clinic on these guys. The transition unit showed some effort defensively, but effort without communication and purpose can only go nowhere. Siakam and Poeltl checked back mid-way through the second period. Still, it didn’t stop the Celtics from brutally outplaying them on every facet of the game. Payton Pritchard swished a corner three to give the Celtics a 50-22 lead, forcing Nurse to call yet another timeout. The Celtics continued to smother the Raptors in the paint, and it took the Raptors’ #1 option to FINALLY force his way into the game with a nifty post-up against Al Horford. Barton made his presence felt too, but the Raptors needed to put more resistance defensively. To no surprise, it’s a 36-point lead. VanVleet led an emphatic 6-1 run to close the half trailing the Celtics, 40-68.
Since there’s no mercy rule in the NBA, Celtics coach Joe Mazzula chose to call it a night for Jayson Tatum to somewhat level the playing field. It helped the Raptors, as Siakam’s trifecta that opened the second half led to a 15-5 run to cut the lead to 73-55. The game stopped for a bit as the officials had to investigate a hostile act between Siakam’s arm and Horford’s nether region, resulting in a tech for Siakam. Derrick White’s excellent point guard play got the Celtics’ rhythm back on track, as a 9-4 Celtics run pushed the lead back to 22, forcing Nurse to call a timeout. Precious Achiuwa got going for a bit, but Hauser is just too much for the Raptors, not just dropping three-point bombs, but dunking on the Raptors’ head, as he pushes the Celtics’ lead back to 25. Gary Trent Jr. finally made his first bucket since returning from his injury. However, the Celtics still maintained a 95-73 lead entering the final frame.
The Barnes + bench lineup remains consistent with the starters, also lifeless, and allowed the Celtics bench counterparts to outplay them. The Raptors’ offense continued to look robotic at best. At the same time, their (lack of) defense and attention to detail allowed the Celtics to look like they are filming a game tape of how to play Basketball 101, soon to be sold on Amazon. Nurse finally raised the white flag by calling a timeout and subbing in Malachi Flynn and Christian Koloko with over six minutes to go. With 3:30 left, it became a Raptors 905 vs Maine Red Claws, with Justin Champagnie making his first appearance for the Celtics/Red Claws.
Hey, at least the Raptors 905 beat the Maine Red Claws 14-9 with Dalano Banton’s 10 points leading the way!