No Pierce/Garnett/Rondo, no problem…for the Celtics that is. What a waste of a Saturday night, and so much for that winning streak. I really thought the Raptors wouldn’t have much of a problem last night with the caveat that they come out focused and determined. I had a bad feeling about Tony Allen, not because he’s a Raptor killer (he isn’t), but because he is exactly the kind of hustle player who the Raptors always sleep on when they should have their foot on his throat. It’s actually textbook how this team reacts under these kinds of circumstances; they show up in body, not mind.
Call me crazy, but this loss may have hurt me more then the Atlanta blowout because of what it says about this franchise. It says that the 5-game winning streak we were on was the result of playing teams worse then us, and nothing else. It confirms that this team folds when challenged from the tip. This is a team that doesn’t have much strategy, can’t follow what little strategy it has, and is not constructed to win tight games that require you to dig in your heels and bleed. I know I’m getting dramatic, but this is how I feel – that AltRaps and the rest of his Girl Guide troop could give the Raptors a run for their money.
The Raptors front court must have been licking their chops heading into this one. With Garnett and Pierce out, Bosh and Bargnani had open season to attack the Celtics all game. Perkins is a tough sonabitch, but Wallace is an out of shape old man who’s best years were over with 3 years ago. What happened? Perkins got into early foul trouble that limited his aggressiveness in the 1st quarter, but the Raptors didn’t continue to attack him for some reason. In fact, they only had success when they drove the ball, but far too often in the first quarter, Bargnani would pop a jumper and bail out Perkins or Wallace from playing any real defense.
This was the point where I knew we weren’t going to win this one. When we didn’t continually attack Perkins/Wallace. After these two, the Celtics would have only had Shelden Williams, Big Baby and Scalabrine to carry the load up front. Triano’s strategy should have been “drive the fricken ball every single time straight down their throats until they get into foul trouble.” With those two out, Ray Allen wouldn’t have got so many good looks from all over the floor, and the game would have been over. Instead, we saw jumper after jumper.
Jack and Turkoglu did another great job of creating for everyone else. They moved the ball around, found the open guy (usually rolling off the high screen) and scored from enough points on the floor to keep their check honest. Banks even contributed in this department.
This loss came down to how points were being scored by each team:
Shots at the rim: 9-19
Shots <10 feet: 3-7
Shots between 10 to 15 feet: 5-10
Shots between 16 to 23 feet: 10-20
Three point shots: 8-15
Shots at the rim: 17-22
Shots <10 feet: 7-13
Shots between 10 to 15 feet: 3-4
Shots between 16 to 23 feet: 3-15
Three point shots: 6-16
The Celtics hammered it inside, almost hitting more shots at the rim then the Raptors took. The closer you get to the rim, the better chance you have of hitting the shot, or drawing a foul (or both). The Raptors miserably failed in this regard. Yeah we shot well from the perimeter, but we have lost far more games because of our shooting then we have won.
This tells the tale really, the Raptors shot the ball well, but the Celtics did all the things necessary to win a game: they out-rebounded, protected the ball and got to the free throw line more effectively then the Raptors did.
Outside of Bosh/Bargnani/Jack/Turkoglu, no other Raptor did anything of note. AltRaps had a plethora of choices of who to throw under the bus. It was so bad that Triano actually started Pops in the 4th quarter. I’m not saying this was a good decision, because it wasn’t. In fact, Triano did a poor job when it came to match-ups and substitutions. At one point, both Pops and Banks were on the court at the same time in hopes that Jah would intervene and help us out. Didn’t happen…shocking I know.
I could have lived with all of this if only their bench didn’t outplay ours. You would figure that a shortish bench that lost three guys to the starting lineup because of injury wouldn’t be able to outshine a bench that was fully intact (Evans hasn’t played all year, so we aren’t missing anything).
Boston – 34pts 11rebs 9ast
Toronto – 21pts 6rebs 6ast
It’s games like this that I question the Raptors being a top 5 talented team in the East.
This brings me to Jack’s post-game interview. During this diatribe he talked about a piss poor effort and how they didn’t follow Triano’s game plan. How the hell do you not do what the coach tells you to do? I understand not getting the result from a play you want, but not doing what Triano says? How is this team so inconsistent from game-to-game? For the second time this year, Jack has called this team out, and alluded to Triano not being able to lead this bunch.
Huge opportunity to beat the Celtics was pissed away. Doesn’t matter that they were shorthanded, this could have helped the Raptors get over this mental hurdle they have with Boston. Way to sieze the moment and ruin our Saturday night, thanks guys.