The good feelings created by a Toronto Texas two-step dissipated in Boston on Saturday night.
Coming off a pair of impressive wins, the Raptors had no defensive answers against the potent Celtics and could not find the mark from three-point range in a 117-94 loss.
Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kristaps Porzingis each had huge quarters for the near NBA-best Celtics, Scottie Barnes and OG Anunoby both arguably turned in their worst games of the season and the Raptors bench struggled.
Tatum finished with 27, Porzingis 21 and Brown, who finally had a breakout game on Friday, did it again in this one, scoring 29. No Raptors scored more than Pascal Siakam’s 17.
The score doesn’t show it, but Toronto was actually in large portions of the game, but struggled to open quarters. After a nearly even first quarter, the Raptors gave up 10 straight points to start the second quarter and were forced to call timeout. In all, Boston went on a 26-8 run, but only led by seven until Tatum made it 11 points in the second quarter by going down the court for a layup against little resistance.
Despite playing a night earlier against a rested Toronto team, Boston seemed to have the fresher legs, with shot after shot falling through. Plus, there was no rust coming out of halftime, with the Celtics again starting a quarter quickly, scoring nine of the first 13 points to stretch the lead to 14, forcing Toronto into another timeout.
This time the timeout didn’t work, as Boston increased its lead another 10 points, to 24, making the fourth quarter pretty inconsequential.
Besides Tatum’s 11 points in the second quarter, there were 12 from Porzingis in the third and another 14 from Brown in that frame.
Toronto has not won in Boston in more than two years. These Celtics might be even better than those recent strong opponents. The team is now 7-2 and leads the NBA in net rating. They’ll meet again in Toronto on Friday, the third game of Toronto’s upcoming long homestand. The first will come against woeful Washington on Monday.
The Raptors got Precious Achiuwa back, but Gary Trent Jr. missed the game due to plantar fasciitis, further weakening the team’s backcourt depth and its bench.
One of the few positives for Toronto was another good start from Pascal Siakam, who was coming off one of his best games of the year. Siakam scored 10 quick points as the rest of the offence struggled. That said, Siakam shot just 3-10 the rest of the way for seven points and has now missed 15 of his last 16 three-point attempts over the last four games.
Barnes swished two three-point shots early, but also missed five. It was the most attempts Barnes has hoisted in a game in the first half. He missed two more and Anunoby hit just 2-8.
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Barnes was one of only three players averaging at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists per game heading in. The other two? The last three MVP winners, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic. Not bad company. However, Barnes halved that production on Saturday.