The Toronto Raptors were finally home tonight after what seemed like months but was actually only eleven days. Finally back home, they set their sights on avoided slipping into a four game losing streak.
In their way? The Boston Celtics.
The injury bug has also continued to affect the Raptors, with Gary Trent Jr (flu-like symptoms) and Gradey Dick (thumb) both ruled out prior to the game. They joined Poeltl and Otto Porter Jr on the injury lineup.
With that in mind, the Raptors started their usual four starters plus Jontay Porter (the two-way). This marks Porter’s first career start and only the third time the Raptors have started a two-way player.
Boston on the other hand was missing one of their stars, Jaylen Brown.
Toronto kept up well in the first quarter, ending down by four 29-25. Porter and RJ Barrett immediately established a great chemistry and RJ lead the Raptors with 10 points.
Raptors offense is sort of stuck in the mud to start this game -- but that's why I love Jontay Porter— Esfandiar Baraheni (@JustEsBaraheni) January 16, 2024
Just makes things happen. pic.twitter.com/eRSb2Tdcys
Despite the Raptors holding up well for most of the first half, they were down six at halftime, 61-55. Immanuel Quickley led all scorers with 16 points, shooting 6-10 from the field and 2-3 from three.
RJ Barrett was having himself a game (as usual in 2024). By the end of three quarters he had scored 22 points on 10-15 shooting from the field. He was not having the best night from three, but made up for it by being physical in the paint.
22 points on 14 shots for RJ Barrett— Esfandiar Baraheni (@JustEsBaraheni) January 16, 2024
Look at this transition take -- right through Porzingis's chest pic.twitter.com/azHVOcAh5A
The Raptors closed up the gap in the third quarter, but in the last two minutes of the the third quarter let the Celtics go on a run resulting in them being up 84-75.
Yet the Raptors crawled back in the fourth and were only behind four points with about two minutes to go. Unfortunately, it was not enough for Toronto to get ahead and the Celtics ran away with it, 105-96.
Let’s get into some specifics:
Scottie-Tatum Match Up
Despite the loss, it was an enjoyable game to watch. It was only in the fourth quarter that the Celtics got ahead by enough that the Raptors ran out of time to come back.
One of the most fun aspects of the game was the match up between Scottie Barnes and Jayson Tatum. Scottie has been getting the tougher defensive assignments lately and tonight proved it’s something he can handle.
Tatum was held to 19 points on 7-19 shooting from the field, and 1-6 from three point range.
Jayson Tatum also defended Scottie on the other end and Scottie did pretty well. He scored 10 points on 5-12 shooting from the field.
LOOK AT SCOTTIE ON TATUM pic.twitter.com/L5ej8sbTp3— Esfandiar Baraheni (@JustEsBaraheni) January 16, 2024
While Barrett didn’t have the best game against Utah, he was back in form tonight against Boston. RJ was clearly the best player on the floor for Toronto (maybe in the entire game) as he lead ALL scorers with 24 points.
He shot 11-19 from the field, and while he did not have a great three point shooting night, neither did the whole team, so he gets a pass. He rounded that out with nine rebounds and four assists.
When asked what changed between Utah and tonight he said, “Nothing. I played bad against Utah and good tonight, but nothing changed.”
The Canadian air and the easy access to Osmows must be doing SOMETHING to RJ, because he has been playing incredibly in 2024. He is averaging 19.3 PPG and shooting 50% from three point range since being traded to Toronto.
Awful 3-point Shooting
The Toronto Raptors shot 12.5% from three tonight.
Absolutely no way to win a basketball game.
Only three Raptors made a three-point bucket tonight: Immanuel Quickley had two, and Dennis Schroder and Jalen McDaniels each had one. The team was 4-32 from three on the night.
Maybe the altitude change got to them.
The Raptors will have Tuesday off before playing a back to back Wednesday and Thursday.