Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)
After an underwhelming performance on Sunday against the Magic where the Raptors struggled to shoot and defend against a sub-par team, Toronto flat out dominated the Celtics Tuesday night. They weren’t great in the first quarter, but they were excellent in the 2nd. They outscored the Celtics 36-13 in the 2nd, and went on an 18-0 scoring run at one point. They continued to play well in the 2nd half as they maintained their big lead and never looked back.
It was a total team effort for the Raptors in this one. Kawhi Leonard was great, as per usual, with 21 points on 9/15 shooting. But the Raptors’ most effective player last night was Pascal Siakam. Siakam scored 25 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, and shot 4 of 5 from 3. He also played some great defense, including 2 steals which lead to a great night in transition for the team.
After the Celtics lost to the Bulls, I was expecting them to come out hungry against the Raptors. Not only was this a big game for both teams, but the Celtics usually play well against the Raptors, and I was expecting at least a close game. However, Boston looked out of sorts the whole night and they had some key players who frankly just didn’t show up. Kyrie Irving only had 7 points on 3/10 shooting, Gordon Hayward had 9 points on 2/8 shooting, Al Horford only had 8 points, and it was clear to me that this team just isn’t playing well together right now.
The Celtics have a lot of talent, and they are still a legitimate threat to the Bucks and Raptors, but there’s only around 20 games left and they’ve got to figure this thing out. They’re too talented of a team to be a 5 seed, and I’m still not counting them out. However, it’s time to stop pretending like everything is fine in Boston. They need to play better as a team and they need to do it soon, because the playoffs are quickly approaching and they look completely out of sorts right now.
As for the Raptors, this win sort of silenced the narrative that the team has chemistry issues, and that sitting Kawhi in some games is a serious issue. When the Raptors turn it on like they did Tuesday night, they’re extremely hard to beat. Regardless of whether or not Kawhi is completely in tune with the rest of his teammates, the talent outweighs that. Lowry was making great passes to Kawhi and Siakam all night, and the Raptors looked like a team that had played every game together this year.
Tuesday night was only Jeremy Lin’s 4th game with the team, and Marc Gasol’s 6th, and it was hard to notice that because of how well the team played together. Gasol, by the way, was excellent in this game. He only had 5 points and 5 rebounds, but he had 8 assists. Yes, the Raptors centre had 8 assists, despite coming off the bench and only playing 23 minutes.
Next, the Raptors will round out their 6-game home-stand with a game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland already beat the Raptors this year, and they definitely can’t be taken lightly in this one. After such a good win, it’s possible that the Raptors could come out flat for this one. But I think the fact that they’re at home will be important and ultimately, I expect the Raptors to win this one and end the home-stand on a good note.
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