Fred VanVleet and the Toronto Raptors didn’t have the deepest roster in the world coming into their tussle with the Boston Celtics, and they went into this game with some of their stars injured, OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. were dealing with hip and calf injuries, respectively. Naturally, this threw the rotation out of whack.
Without two of their best players, Toronto’s offensive creativity and defensive hustle went right down the drain. Despite all of those issues and the insane free throw discrepancy in favor of Boston, the Raptors were only down four heading into the fourth quarter.
Toronto’s defense finally broke, helping Boston pull out a 109-97 win that sent the Raptors tumbling to 2-7 at home. VanVleet and Pascal Siakam tried to keep this team in the mix offensively, and Jayson Tatum was just 2-16 from the floor. However, Boston once again owned the paint.
The Raptors’ playoff hopes are starting to slip away in a deep East, and Sunday’s loss illustrated how thin this roster can be at times. Still, amid some poor performances, there were a couple of standouts.
Fred VanVleet was the primary creator for the Toronto Raptors.
In a game where Toronto’s offense was slowed to a crawl at times, only VanVleet was a consistent offensive threat for all four quarters. While Scottie Barnes’ 3-point barrage in the third quarter was impressive, VanVleet’s scoring prowess made him the clear best player on the floor for Toronto tonight.
In 40 minutes, VanVleet scored 27 points while recording six rebounds and three assists. In a first half that saw Barnes start slow and the bench once again provide minimal shooting, VanVleet was doing everything he could to make sure they kept pace with Boston’s attack.
VanVleet is having the best offensive season of his career despite a boatload of injuries around him and some puzzling lineup choices forcing him to provide almost all of the offense. Even with all of those factors working against him, VanVleet was able to torch the Celtics.
This had to be a frustrating night for VanVleet, who is leading the NBA in minutes per game. Despite playing well against a defensive-minded head coach amid his running mates failing to properly support him, he was still able to score. Ultimately, he failed to help Toronto pick up another victory.
Precious Achiuwa has a tough outing for the Toronto Raptors.
Achiuwa started once again due to Trent and Khem Birch sitting this game out. While he has had some encouraging performances of late, including his best game of the season in Memphis, Boston was able to completely neutralize him in this outing.
Achiuwa finished with six points on 3-11 shooting in 36 minutes of play. Nine rebounds do not excuse some embarrassing turnovers or the fact that Al Horford and Enes Kanter completely outplayed him for large chunks of the game.
With Boucher not receiving any playing time and Birch injured, Achiuwa needed to be the screen-setter and rim-runner he was when he was coming off of the bench. Instead, we saw the same Precious that turns the ball over when running the floor and misses easy looks inside.
The frustrating aspects of Achiuwa’s style of play showed up once again. Every time he starts to look like he’s turning a corner, he takes a huge step back and reverts to his old negative ways. Toronto needs to get Achiuwa under control, as too many nights like these could help sink a team riddled with injuries.