Toronto Raptors Roundup: Raptor Fans Should Be Concerned About the Celtics

Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry and Boston Celtics - Kyrie Irving (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry and Boston Celtics - Kyrie Irving (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Toronto Raptors Roundup is a weekly segment where we fill you in on all the games, highlights and stories from last week. Here’s what you missed from the fourteenth week of the season.

It was a tough loss for the Toronto Raptors in Boston. And the Celtics are worrisome.

Don’t care what their record is. Don’t care about rumoured internal squabbling, leadership issues or Jason Tatum’s struggles. This team is concerning. Especially when it comes April and May. Because the Celtics will be fine. 

Boston fans have reason to feel optimistic. They are exceptionally well coached. They have the ability, when healthy, to be an extremely tough defensive team and they have Gordon Hayward flourishing off the bench scoring nearly 12 points per game, shooting a respectable 45% from the field.

When they straighten out their locker room, and they will, the C’s will put together a string of wins. And then, they’ll win a few more. They won’t drop three in a row anymore or lose to teams they shouldn’t. Since, December 29, they have won seven of the last eleven and have wins against the Raptors, Indiana and Philadelphia in that stretch.

Celtics fans are feeling optimistic as Aron Baynes, who returned to the Celtics after being out nearly a month, showed his importance to this team’s defence, which is considerably better when he is in the line-up, as witnessed by Toronto’s reluctance to attack the rim with him waiting in the middle.

And then there’s Kyrie Irving. He had 18 assists against the Raptors. The Celtics are a better team when he is facilitating and dishing the ball out. He’s also shooting nearly 50% from the field and 40% from three while averaging 23 points a game.

When Tatum figures it out and the team can put away their egos for the greater good, this team is Toronto’s biggest problem, not Milwaukee.

Game Recap

Toronto at Boston

Execution. A skill that evaded the Raptors on this night.

The Raptors started strong going up double digits early but the Celtics stormed back and dominated the closing minutes in a tough loss for the Raptors 117-108. Toronto’s inability to close the game and execute down the stretch in this one cost them.

The Raptors couldn’t hit the basket in the final three minutes. Unfortunately for them, that was around the time Kyrie went off. He had 10 points and six assists in the fourth quarter — including passes to set up Boston’s last three baskets in a game-ending 17-4 run.

Phoenix at Toronto

C.J. Miles. Might the three-point specialist be back? Raptors fans hope so as his ability to drain threes in spurts (or really at all) has been sorely missed by a team who is been bad from three for too long. Miles finished with 13 points including three from downtown and the Raptors needed every one of them.

Like the game against Boston, the Raps started strong jumping out to a 21-11 lead early on, but failed to keep the lead, this time giving it up to the cellar dwelling Suns. Phoenix fought back in the second half, taking the lead into the fourth quarter. A nasty technical foul on a nasty push from Josh Jackson on a Chris Boucher dunk seemed to change the momentum. It took this incredible last second drive by Pascal Siakam to win the game for Toronto.

Memphis at Toronto

Danny Green. He had season-high 24 points and set a franchise record with seven 3-pointers in the third quarter as the Toronto Raptors beat the Memphis Grizzlies 119-90. His teammates knew he had something special going on and did everything they could to get him the ball.

Kawhi Leonard sat this game out (rest) on a wintry Saturday night but it mattered little as the Raptors took advantage of a Marc Gasol-less Memphis squad who have been struggling since starting the season strong. Norman Powell and Miles both had strong games scoring 14 and 13 respectively, a development all Raptor fans are excited to see.

The Raptors (35-13) have won two in a row, eight of their last ten and are 20-4 at home. They have 17 remaining games at the Scotiabank Centre.

The Week Ahead

Sacramento at Toronto

The Raptors host the Sacramento Kings as their last home game before they head out on a three game road trip. The Kings have been much better this year, thanks largely to the improvement of second year stud De’Aaron Fox who is in every discussion for Most Improved Player of the year award.

Toronto at Indiana

Toronto visits Indiana on Wednesday on the second game of a back to back. Indiana has proven to be a contender to come out of the East thanks in large part to the play of Victor Oladipo, Darren Collison and Domantas Sabonis. The Pacers, as of the weekend, were 30-15 and had won seven of ten.

Toronto at Houston

The Rockets record so far this year must be a disappointment (and surprise) to most onlookers, but the play of superstar James Harden has not been. In what has been an otherwordly run, Harden is averaging a league-best 35.4 points per game, has scored 30-plus points in 18 straight games, mixing in three 50-point games and eight 40-point games.

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Toronto at Dallas

The best part about this game? We get to see Luka Doncic again. The future All-Star and probable rookie of the year has been nothing short of sensational averaging 20 points, five assists and nearly seven rebounds per game. His last five games? Nearly 24 points, seven assists and six boards per.