Scottie Barnes and the Toronto Raptors are in the middle of a little slide after their five-game winning streak, as they came into their tussle with the rival Boston Celtics having fallen in consecutive home games against the Cavaliers and Nets. Could a return to Boston help this team get their mojo back?
Unfortunately, no such rejuvenation happened. Not only were the Raptors taken down by the Celtics 104-88 on the road, but they were beaten by a weakened team. Jaylen Brown did not play, and Jayson Tatum had an extremely inefficient night shooting the ball.
What’s most disheartening about this loss is the fact that Toronto appeared to be getting outworked and outhustled by the Celtics. Without Khem Birch to solidify the paint, the Celtics had no trouble getting to the rim. A lack of perimeter defense and clutch shot-making was the final nail in the coffin.
While a good chunk of the Toronto Raptors players deserve scorn after failing to show up against Boston, there were a couple of standouts that shouldn’t be blamed for this tough loss.
Winners and Losers after the Toronto Raptors fell to the Celtics.
Winner: Scottie Barnes
There were times where Barnes appeared to be the only player on the floor who was worthy of earning his game check. While he did have a couple of uncharacteristic defensive lapses in the first half, Barnes deserves a ton of credit for keeping the Raptors within striking distance for as long as he did.
Scottie Barnes was one of the few Toronto Raptors who played well.
Barnes scored 21 points to lead the team, pulled down scene rebounds, and dished out for assists. In a first quarter that saw the Raptors go completely lifeless for large stretches, Barnes was going everything to keep them in it. The team around him stunk, but Barnes played well again.
Winner: Robert Williams
The Texas A&M product is quickly becoming one of the best rebounding big men in the NBA, but that is no excuse for letting him completely dominate the game in the fashion that he did. No. 44 looked more like Robert Parish than Robert Williams for large chunks of this game against a depleted frontcourt.
Williams snagged 13 rebounds and put up 16 points, most of which came on second-chance opportunities. With every player the Raptors threw at Williams unable to quell his solid performance in the paint, Boston looked like they were ready to avenge their early-season humiliation at the hands of Toronto.
Loser: Pascal Siakam
This performance doesn’t mean that Siakam is a bad player or a poor fit for this team, as he is playing in just his second game after a major shoulder operation. Still, he did not look like the All-Star player we know and love, and there were times where he appeared completely out of sorts.
Pascal Siakam did not play very well for the Toronto Raptors.
In 30 minutes, Siakam took just seven shots, making three and scoring just eight points. He also turned the ball over four times, looking every bit like a player that was out for months due to a serious injury. He’ll undoubtedly improve, but Siakam will need to do it soon if he wants to keep the Raptors in the playoff hunt.
Loser: Toronto’s rebounding prowess
The loss of Birch has already shown that it can potentially destabilize Toronto’s ability to dominate the offensive glass. Williams and Al Horford helped Boston take on the league’s best offensive rebounding squad entering tonight and completely shut them down.
The Raptors had just five offensive rebounds compared to 12 for Boston. Williams himself recorded an astounding eight. The combination of the lack of muscle in the paint and Nick Nurse’s failure to adjust to Williams helped Boston beat up on Toronto in a shocking fashion.