Weary Celtics run out of duct tape, fall to Raptors, 96-78

April 4, 2018 - photo credit - AP. Raptors top weary Celtics. Greg Monroe contests DeMar DeRozan
April 4, 2018 - Raptors top Celtics, 96-78. Greg Monroe contests DeMar DeRozan. Photo credit - AP.

A Celtics team that’s been winning games on smoke, mirrors, duct tape, and coaching wizardry finally ran out of answers Wednesday in Toronto. The Red-Claws rich Celtics fell to the 12-man-deep Raptors, 96-78.

Boston actually managed to make the Toronto crowd nervous for about 14 minutes. Five different Celtics — Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, Al Horford, Marcus Morris, and bright spot of the game Greg Monroe — scored in the paint in the first quarter. The Celtics gritted their way to a 20-14 lead after one stanza.

Then Toronto picked up its defense. A worn-out and G-League-heavy Celtics team committed nine second-quarter turnovers. The still-underrated Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet, and the Raptors strong second unit, led a 24-5 Raptors run for a 10-point lead at half.

Tired Celtics legs helped the Raptor defense out the rest of the way. Boston hit one of its first 13 3-point attempts to start the game.

(Both teas played on Tuesday night — the Celtics coming off a tough loss to Milwaukee. But in recent weeks, the nearly-injury-free Raptors were able to spread major minutes to one of the best benches in the game. The difference showed.)

For Toronto, both DeMar DeRozan (16 points) and Kyle Lowry (11 points) put in quiet but efficient performances in a game where star-power wasn’t really needed.

One Redditor put it well in the Celtics postgame thread:

“We ended the game with Allen, Bird, Silas, Nader and Yabu” on the floor, as Alex Souza wrote. “There’s nothing to be added. On to the next one.”

(Referring to Kadeem Allen, Abdel Nader, Jabari Bird, Guerschon Yabusele, and Xavier Silas, who closed out the game for Boston.)

Bright spots Dept.

After watching a cascade of second-quarter mid-range jump shots, Brad Stevens implored the Celtics, “drive it, kick it, move the ball, move without the ball.” The Celtics kept at it.

Greg Monore (17 points, 8 rebounds in 23 minutes) and a clearly hobbled Rozier (1 of 9 shooting, 9 rebounds on a bad ankle) both battled. Boston kept within 10-12 points much of the third and some of the fourth quarter. In short, the team didn’t quit.

One thing that probably suffered little against Toronto: Celtic clutch shooting. Boston’s been excellent in close games, led by Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Not that the team shut well in clutch-time against the Raptors. There simply was, statistically, not much clutch time, if any.

Playoff positioning and tickets

The game all but ended Boston’s hopes of capturing the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics trail the Raptors by three games with four to play.

On the other hand, with the second spot clinched, Brad Stevens now has four games to tinker. Boston can rest a weary roster, do a little experimenting on the margins, and try to get things tuned up for the playoffs (April 14).

(Celtics playoff ticket information. Consumer reviews and fan ticket postings on the new Boston Celtics tickets page on Reddit.)

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Celtics247 staff

Celtics247 staff

Celtics247 staff is composed of fans, journalists, disbarred attorneys, people laid off by ESPN, and other disreputable types who spend too much time watching basketball -- and loving it. If you'd like to join our merry band, you can post a comment, tweet us at @Celts247, or email us (see the contact page.) The only requirement is that you bleed green.
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  1. Pingback: Silver Linings - Greg Monroe - Jaylen & Jayson - Red-Claw callups - & more - Celtics247

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