The 28-7, East-leading Celtics are very good and very big and the visitors simply were overmatched.
“They’re physically stronger than all of our big kids,” said head coach Jay Triano.
“You’d hope getting beat by 20 points and getting embarrassed is something you never want to happen again and you bounce back and you respond.
“Sometimes a step like this (results in) where you spend a summer in the weight room and say: ‘I’m not going to let that (expletive) happen again.’”
Though Triano and the Raptors denied the crowd played much of a factor, the young Raptors — now 12-24 — became rattled at a couple of key first-quarter points when the Garden’s faithful really let loose with noise and excitement.
The visitors were hanging around when the crowd really got into it for the first time. After two Shaquille O’Neal free throw misses, the Celtics got the offensive rebound and got a three from Paul Pierce, sparking delirium.
The result? A Raptors turnover the next trip down the floor.
When the team got within 18-17, turnover problems arose again when the fans worked themselves into a frenzy once more and before the Raptors knew it, they were down 34-22 after a quarter and 67-45 at the half.
The lead was chipped down to 12 early in the fourth, but the outcome never felt in doubt.
“It’s a great atmosphere in this building, they just kept yelling,” said rookie Ed Davis.
The Raptors once again were without Jerryd Bayless, Sonny Weems, Peja Stojakovic and Reggie Evans but Boston was not at full strength either.
Even without sublime big man Kevin Garnett and bruising centre Kendrick Perkins, the Celtics dominated.
Toronto came out flat, the Celtics smelled blood and are good enough and talented enough to know how to put teams away.
Sure, the Raptors had some good moments and stretches where they looked okay but the overriding sense was Boston was like a cat playing with a captured mouse, just teasing it a lot until it went in for the kill.
There was not one Celtic who did more damage than another, they got production from every key player, spread the shots and the ball and got a season-high 17 from unheralded rookie Luke Harangody for good measure.
With Kevin Garnett still out with a sore calf, the Celtics got solid production from two of the big three as Paul Pierce had 20 points and Ray Allen 17.
But it was total domination at almost every position as the Raptors just weren’t good enough at either end of the floor.
The Raptors didn’t defend nearly well enough to cause the turnovers and missed shots that tend to fuel their offence and when they were in the half court, they were stifled by a typically aggressive Boston defence.
All five Toronto starters were in double figures —Linas Kleiza and Andrea Bargnani both had 17 —but the lax first half made almost all the second half scoring inconsequential.
Know what I like about games in Boston?
No timeout shenanigans where they spin some dial at midcourt or play some silly game with boxes and prizes or some zany over-under game with cards on the ribbon boards around the arena.
No “in-game hosts” and nobody screaming at fans to scream.
Sure, they have June Taylor Dancers and some group of kids who fire T-shirts into the stands and leprechaun but, for the most part, it’s a “basketball experience” and I’m all for it.
Not sure it would go in Toronto – fans at home tend to want to be otherwise “entertained” rather than to just watch the game – but maybe it’s worth a try some day.
Wonder what it would be like at one Raptors game to have nothing but the game to deal with.
Odd, I bet.
The Raptors got as close as 13 points in the third and were down 87-73 after two foul shots by Amir Johnson before Harangody helped quickly rebuild Boston’s lead. Pierce made two free throws to put the Celtics up 89-73, then Harangody blocked a layup attempt by Ed Davis and rumbled back to the Celtics’ end to score on his own layup with 1:53 left in the third.
Andrea Bargnani got Toronto to within 98-86, but that was as close as the Raptors would come. The Celtics scored the next 10 points during a 15-1 run that sealed the victory and a 3-1 win for Boston in the season series.
Harangody would drain a mid-range jumper with 23 seconds on the clock giving his club the upper hand at the end of the first as Boston jumped out in front of the Raptors 34-22. If anybody on the Toronto bench thought that their club still had a chance in this contest, that thought would be erased by the end of the second as Ray Allen connected on a running jumper with 31 seconds to play and the Celtics would head into the locker room as the game reached the half with this game locked away leading 67-45.
Toronto would make some headway in the third, but it was far too little and much too late to matter. Pierce split a pair at the line with 38 seconds remaining in the third and Boston would be on top at the end of the period 94-77. Toronto would never get closer than trailing by 12 points in the final 12 minutes as Boston would win the game handily.
There’s offensive clinics and then there’s the dominance Boston’s offense put forth tonight against the Toronto Raptors. Against Jay Triano’s putrid defense, the C’s came out with energy both on offense and the glass on their way to 65 percent first half show that provided a comfortable cushion for the remainder of the game. A well-timed blowout to be certain with a road game looming in Chicago tomorrow night.
The shots kept falling, the lead kept growing, and if it were a boxing match the Celtics would have won on all three judges’ cards by that point, but the Raptors came out for the fourth quarter punch-drunk but still swinging.
After being in a 26-point hole, Linas Kleiza drilled a 3-pointer that cut Toronto’s deficit to 14 with 11:27 left, and the Celtics needed a big shot to make sure nothing wild happened in the final quarter.
Rajon Rondo took a pass from Semih Erden and pulled up from 25 feet, drilling a 3-pointer that all but sent the Raptors back to their corner in a daze, swallowing a 122-102 loss that wrapped up the season series.
“That was a dangerous part of the game,’’ said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “I thought Rondo’s three, crazy as it sounds, may have been the biggest shot of the game. The shot clock was winding down, we were going through our little lull, and he makes a three to bring it back to 17. I thought that was a big push for us.’’
Toronto entered last night’s game with the NBA’s worst field goal percentage defense. When the Raptors stepped on the parquet, they showed why. The C’s set a season high for points and shot 57.5 percent (46-of-80) to record the franchise’s 3,000th win.
The C’s defense was stingy when it needed to be, as they took a 67-45 halftime lead. They lost interest at times in the second half, with the visitors finishing with a 50.6 percentage from the floor, but there was no reason for concern with life so easy at the other end.
Paul Pierce led six Celtics in double figures with 20 points. With Garnett sidelined until early next week, Luke Harangody’s playing time has increased. The rookie from Notre Dame made the most of the extra minutes with 17 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.
Ray Allen continued his torrid stretch from the field, scoring 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He’s made 19-of-24 shots in the last two games.
Nate Robinson (15 points), Glen Davis (14) and O’Neal (12) provided more than enough support against the hapless Raptors.
"When you look at that team, there’s a reason why their the best team in the East right now," said Raptors coach Jay Triano. "They’re physically stronger then us, or quicker than us at all five positions. They go where they want to go offensively, they know how to use screens, set screens, and for some of our young guys and our guys battling injuries, we can’t match up with that, that physical play, it makes for a long night."
For the Raptors, maybe.
For the Celtics?
Not so much.
Glen Davis was the only Celtics starter to play more than 30 minutes, a huge plus as they gear up for the Chicago Bulls Saturday night.
"We need more games like this, especially in back-to-backs," Cs Marquis Daniels told CSNNE.com. "We need more games when we can give the starters a rest."
Toronto (12-24) came into Friday’s game with one of the league’s worst records, and the Celtics wasted no time exposing them and all their flaws.
DeMar DeRozan is a heckuva scorer: DeRozan’s youthful athleticism gave the Celtics’ defense problems at times. He got into the lane at will and maneuvered around Shaq like a squirrel around a tree. The Raptors’ shooting guard finished with 20 points.
DeRozan is signed with Toronto in the Atlantic Division through 2014, so the Celtics should be seeing plenty of him over the years — unless the Raptors trade him away like every other good player that goes through Canadian customs.
The prevailing wisdom that had him on the trading block this summer was that his trademark efficiency had escaped him and that his salary was out of whack with his on-court production, thus he was no longer a positive asset for the club and should be moved. For a team that was looking to go younger, his reduced capacity didn’t really fit into the team’s plans.
However, now that he’s back playing at a highly efficient rate, shouldn’t the complaints about him start to fall away? After all, he’s the team’s leader in PER (not counting Peja Stojakovic) at 18.2, he’s organizing the offense of a lot of young players ill-equipped to do so themselves and he’s playing the role of veteran leader on the court, a role that any young team desperately needs filled as they find their legs as professionals.
It’s especially important to remember that for young players to grow and develop on the court, they have to be put in the best possible position to succeed within their own limits. Guys like Andrea Bargnani,DeMar DeRozan, Linas Kleiza and Amir Johnson aren’t players you simply hand the ball to in situations and watch them create; they are players that need to be set-up, that need to be found when they are in their spots on the floor and Calderon is particularly adept at doing that. He allows those players to impact the game with greater efficiency because they aren’t asked to step out of their skill set on offense nearly as much when he is on the court. It’s also important to remember that this Raptors team can be a turnover-prone mess (they’re 24th in the league with 15.6 turnovers per game), which makes Calderon’s 3.91 assist-to-turnover ratio (second best in the NBA) especially useful.
Despite all of this, all most people can see with regards to Calderon is his salary. At three-years, $29-million owed including this season (two-years, $19.2-million after this season), most see his financial obligation as a weight dragging down all of the Raptors future flexibility and promise as an up-and-coming club. On this I call ‘bunk’. The Raptors have as much as $25-million in expiring contracts to play with in trades or to let expire, they have the $12.2-million remaining of their Traded Player Exception and players like Leandro Barbosa and Reggie Evans will hold a certain appeal to playoff-bound clubs looking for high-caliber role players to round out their rosters. That is on top of the fact that the Raptors have two first-round draft picks and a bushel of young players to dangle if a particularly enticing opportunity comes along. The point being that so long as Calderon is playing at a high level, the NEED to trade him evaporates in the short term, and the Raptors financial picture is hardly marred by his retention.