Final Score: Toronto Raptors 93 – Boston Celtics 87
Toronto Raptors starting lineup: Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas
Boston Celtics starting lineup: Avery Bradley, Gerald Wallace, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Vitor Faverani
In the opening game of the season for both teams, the Toronto Raptors were able to secure a season-opening win with a 93-87 victory over the Boston Celtics. The Celtics jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead and held a 26-21 lead after the first quarter thanks to shooting an efficient 11-17 from the field. The Celtics were led in the quarter by Vitor Faverani, who put up 9 points and blocked 2 shots in his first NBA quarter, while the Raptors had 7 different players all score between 2 and 4 points in the opening quarter.
In the second quarter though, the Celtics ran into trouble, shooting a horrendous 2-14 from the field while turning the ball over 7 times to push their first half turnover total to 12. They did shoot 7-11 from the free throw line in the second quarter, but that was not nearly enough to keep up with the Raptors, who outscored the Celtics 28-11 in the quarter thanks to a balanced scoring effort and a significant rebounding advantage.
At halftime, Celtics’ coach Brad Stevens stressed fundamentals, saying that Boston needed to be more disciplined on defense and on the boards to get back into the game. Leading 49-37 at the half, the Raptors pushed their lead to as many as 16 and led by 12 with under 5 minutes to go before the Celtics picked up their effort and activity to cut the lead to down to 6.
A Jeff Green three-pointer brought the deficit down the 3 points, and after a pair of Toronto free throws, Jordan Crawford hit a very deep three-pointer to cut the lead down to 2 points. Rudy Gay was called for an offensive foul on Toronto’s last possession, and when Boston tried to get a layup at the end of the quarter, Brandon Bass was able to slam home the putback dunk as time expired to tie the game at 71 at the end of the third quarter.
In a slow offensive 4th quarter, both teams remained tied at 78 with 7:42 to go, but Toronto went on a 12-2 run that would ultimately decide the game. Boston came back to within 5 points on a Kris Humphries tip-in, but was unable to close out the game, and Toronto came away with the 93-87 win.
Toronto Raptors notes
The Raptors won tonight thanks in large part to a stellar rebounding effort in which they out-rebounded the Celtics 49-33, including a 19-7 advantage on the offensive glass. Tyler Hansbrough led the team with 12 rebounds (5 of them offensive) in 25 minutes off the bench, while starting center Jonas Valanciunas grabbed 11 rebounds, including 5 on the offensive end.
The Raptors shot only 44% on the evening, but they accumulated 86 field goal attempts to Boston’s 66, due to both superior rebounding and forcing the Celtics into 22 turnovers (although the Raptors did commit 17 turnovers themselves). Rudy Gay was the leading scorer for the Raptors with 19 points, while DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson added 13 points each, and Kyle Lowry put in 11. Toronto did sacrifice potential points by going just 12-23 at the free throw line, but that seems to be an aberration; Kyle Lowry shot an uncharacteristic 7-12, while DeRozan went 0-2 and Landry Fields missed his only attempt.
The Celtics are not expected to be an offensive powerhouse this season, but Toronto still did a good job of forcing turnovers, as well as not allowing the Celtics to get too many open looks. Toronto came away with the win tonight, but they were still somewhat sloppy, and will have to player cleaner and sharper to compete in the East this season.
Raptors player of the game: Rudy Gay
Boston Celtics notes
For a team that many expected to finish near the bottom of the Eastern Conference this season, there were some definite positive signs for the Celtics, but there were also reminders of why they are picked to do so poorly. Without Rajon Rondo, the Celtics relied on ball movement and screens to create their offense. Jeff Green is the only offensive player on the team who is truly talented enough to create for himself, and he showed that tonight, leading the team with 25 points on 8-16 shooting.
Vitor Faverani made his presence known in the first half, scoring 13 points, but failed to score a single point in the second half. Nevertheless, he is the only true center on Boston’s roster and showed some serious potential as an interior scorer tonight, so expect the Celtics to try and develop his abilities.
The Celtics struggled mightily in the rebounding department, with Kris Humphries being the only player who grabbed more than 5 rebounds, pulling in 9. Faverani had just 3 rebounds while Kelly Olynyk did not have a single rebound in 16 minutes of play. Although the Celtics should improve in the rebounding department once Jared Sullinger comes back from his 1-game suspension, it is still an area of worry that could be one of the team’s sorest spots this season.
For much of the game, the Celtics appeared to lack focus and discipline, turning the ball over 22 times and failing to take proper angles and closeouts on defense. This is fixable though, so expect Brad Stevens to work on this and make the team a little more cohesive defensively. With new and younger players, it will certainly be a challenge, but Stevens has emphasized fundamentals, so this will surely be an area of focus as the season progresses.
Boston player of the game: Jeff Green