Caught the better part of this one on a stream which had Tommy Heinsohn mouthing off randomly. The man is the greatest example of why strokes should be taken seriously and not ignored. Clearly he’s suffered many in his years and its affected his reasoning on topics ranging from basketball to talking without spitting. In fact, I’m pretty sure he had one in the third quarter when a Raptors played picked up a charge on a 50-50 call.
Briefly on this game, it wasn’t pretty from the start and it didn’t get much better. The Raptors’ effort was again great, unfortunately, the Celtics treated this one as close to a real game in the first half and that included playing great defense. The Raptors are still figuring out what exactly their offense will be, so we saw a lot of over-dribbling, random movement that doesn’t go anywhere, and settling for jumpshots because there wasn’t a plan on how to get easy scores. As I said, it didn’t help that Boston came out swinging, which meant the Raptors never got to try out different things in this one because they were put right to the test from the get-go.
Bayless and Gray got the start and the rest of the lineup was unchanged from Wednesday. I didn’t want to blame the offensive ineptness of 30% shooting in the first quarter on Bayless, because everybody was off. The Celtics shot 56% in the quarter and the Raptors defense was always defending after missed shots, which is always harder than when the other team’s inbounding. Rondo was his usual self and Bayless had trouble keeping him away from the rim. When any Celtic did get there, Gray’s defense was abysmal. He looked very bad in pretty much every play he was involved in, thus making himself the low-hanging fruit Heinsohn was salivating for.
Bayless’ style was typified in one sequence where he got schooled and scored on by Rondo, his reaction wasn’t to get the team in the offense and execute a play, but to get it back on his own. He got fouled, but everyone was like, c’mon man. I recall Ed Davis making an impression with some post moves, and DeRozan shooting a couple air-balls. He had a miserable 4-13 night which was made to look respectable through some cosmetic FT shooting. The Celtics defense didn’t have to work hard to stop him, and that’s a little disappointing.
Boston also went at Andrea Bargnani a lot, putting him in help situations. Bargnani responded well, he only had four rebounds, but if I had to classify his overall defense, I’d say it was better than most on the team. For example, he picked up a foul playing defense on a play that last year he would not even have bothered with. He’s moving his feet much better (picked up a great charge again), and is making an effort to do the right thing. The offense, well, you can make what you will of 20 points on 17 shots. All I’ll say is that at no time did he (or anyone else, really) cause any real trouble to the Celtics (with the exception of a gorgeous reverse dunk).
The Raptors were down 16 at the half and were in the 11-16 deficit range for most of this game, and showed little signs of overcoming it making this very boring viewing. The three-point shooting read 1-17, no further analysis needed. This is a known problem which has gone unaddressed thus far. Why did the Raptors keep shooting threes when they weren’t going in? Because the offense was a mess (19 turnovers, 32% FG, only 11 assists), so it’s the easiest thing left to do. On the good news front, the rebounding was a great +10 (48-38). DeRozan tried to make up for his lacking game by hitting the glass and collected 10, Davis snared 8.
Boston’s scrubs were unleashed in the second half and they didn’t let the lead slip, not because they were great, but because the Raptors couldn’t get anything going on offense. The second half was more or less unwatchable. The Raps made the standard away team run to cut the lead from insurmountable to lets-make-it-look-like-we-were-in-it in the fourth. Quick take on each player:
Bargnani: Better defense, too many low percentage shots (e.g., those 22-foot jumpers).
J. Johnson: Very causal on the offensive end, need him slashing and making things happen off the ball, kind of like DeRozan in his rookie year. Had five steals.
Gray: He was awful.
Bayless: You can’t say anything nice about a point guard who goes 4-16, has two turnovers, and only two assists.
DeRozan: Hit the glass which I respect, but how about some scoring? He’s got to get his offensive game going to the point where he can attract double teams now and then.
Calderon: When he’s not hitting his threes, his value drops by 50%.
Forbes: Would’ve made Joey Graham proud.
A. Johnson: The heart is great, but as Hollinger pointed out, the strength is lacking.
Alabi: Got in for five minutes, it’s 50-50 whether he’s better than Patrick O’Bryant.
Ed Davis: Player of the game for us. Good rebounding, some very good post moves – 9pts, 8reb.
Season starts next week!