10 things I saw from Raptors-Celtics (10–1–2017)

  1. Exhale: This win feels like a relief more than anything else. The Raptors had played some of their worst basketball in recent weeks and couldn’t afford to slide into third with a loss to the hated Celtics. It wasn’t easy, but the Raptors took care of business and righted the ship before this upcoming creampuff schedule.
  2. Sluggish start: The Raptors played some of their worst basketball in the first half. They went 8 minutes without a field goal between quarters, committed 12 turnovers (they average that many per game) and allowed the Celtics to punk them on their own home court. That all changed in the third quarter.
  3. Playing for pride: DeMar DeRozan said enough was enough. He took over in the 3rd quarter and literally drove to the hoop every time and was forcing the Celtics to either foul him, or he would score the layup. He didn’t look for anyone else and he didn’t need to. Kelly Olynyk wasn’t gonna stop him. Determination is DeRozan’s №1 skill.
  4. Closers: Kyle Lowry is that set-up man with a wipeout slider. He drilled some impossible threes in the fourth to erase the Celtics’ lead and grabbed some key steals. Then came DeRozan, the fireballer with 100 mph fastballs, who just gunned down the Celtics down the stretch with an assortment of drives and post jumpers. That’s how you close out the game.
  5. Dominance: Jonas Valanciunas got the call in the fourth quarter (he got post touches and everything!) and he delivered with his best showing of the season. He absolutely brutalized the tiny Celtics on the glass, hunted for every tip-in, and even got two key blocks in the final two minutes. He had 18 and 23 tonight. Dwane Casey lit a fire under his ass with those quotes to Zach Lowe last week.
  6. Tiny dancer: Goddamit stopping Isaiah Thomas is a chore. The Raptors trapped him early on and he kept finding the open roller in Olynyk for easy finishes. When the Raptors backed off he began to attack the basket and nobody could stay in front of him. Not sure how this 5–8 guard keeps finishing over 7-footers but he does it.
  7. Worrisome trend: Not to nitpick the win, but the Raptors are relying heavily on DeRozan and Lowry to piece together these masterpieces to get their wins. These games will wear on them as the season carries on. The team as a whole needs to step up to take the load off them.
  8. No seconds: The Raptors got horrendous performances from Cory Joseph and Terrence Ross. Joseph did little on offense and couldn’t make his mark on defense. Ross got outplayed by his spiritual counterpart in Gerald Green. The bench used to be a strength of the team but of late they haven’t delivered.
  9. Wounded: Patrick Patterson also provided very little. He’s more than few steps slow at the moment while he recovers from knee injury. Raptors should give him more time but he’s literally the only functional power forward on the roster right now. No sense in evaluating his performance as a starter under these circumstances.
  10. Go. Get. Millsap: The latest is that the Hawks took Millsap off the trade market and now intend to compete? I call bullshit — they just traded Kyle Korver for pennies. They want teams to step up their offers and are in no rush to sell before the trade deadline.