The Toronto Raptors continued their late game heroics with a tight victory over a Boston Celtics squad which wouldn’t go away. The Raps’ Julyan Stone flubbed an uncontested dunk with a few seconds to play, giving the Celtics one more chance, but mercifully they couldn’t capitalize. I say “mercifully” because there are few things sillier than playing an overtime period in a pre-season game.
Raps’ starters made only token appearances in this contest; Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry and Amir Johnson sat down after the first quarter, and DeMar DeRozan didn’t make 14 minutes. Jonas Valanciunas did got a lot of burn, and was plus-18. Terrence Ross led all game scorers with 19 points, a number of them on dunks created off turnovers. He was drafted by the team in large part because of his ability to shoot from distance, but that capability is still MIA – he was 1 of 5, and is consistently short.
The position of backup point guard remains open, as none of the candidates (Stone, Dwight Buycks, D.J. Augustin) has seized the opportunity. Buycks can’t shoot from beyond the arc, and hasn’t impressed me as a passer. Stone can defend, and gives a solid effort, but is of little use on offense. Augustin was a team-worst minus-16, and didn’t register an assist.
Two former Gonzaga players, Austin Daye and Canada’s Kelly Olynyk, faced each other in the second quarter, and the 7-foot Torontonian left the veteran Daye in the dust. Olynyk’s name is already being bandied about as a Rookie of the Year possibility, and the long-haired Celtic certainly played well, with 13 points and 9 rebounds in 25+ minutes.
Landry Fields enjoyed a solid game, making 5 of 7 shots, including his only triple attempt. Whether he is ready to play an important role off the bench remains to be seen, but at least he appears healthy for the first time since he’s been a Rap.
The Raps’ next pre-season match is Monday against the New York Knicks. Dwayne Casey and his coaching staff need this lengthy break, as the team is not ready to start the season. The turnover count is still much too high (21 more last night), and the second unit can’t score. I hope to report on signs of progress Tuesday morning.
Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.
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