The Toronto Raptors are undefeated as they took down the Boston Celtics 93-87 in the season opener in front of a sold out ACC crowd. It doesn’t get more classic than this as the Raptors led by 16 only to head into the fourth quarter tied. Fortunately, a strong fourth quarter performance gave the Raps a W.
The Raptors had a fair share of breaks tonight. There were some very lucky shots, and I don’t know what was up with Amir Johnson‘s sudden love for shooting threes. He did hit a big one though.
Rudy Gay was big down the stretch and finished the game with 19 points and 8 rebounds on 8-18 shooting. Kyle Lowry shot the ball poorly but was aggressive, and finished with 11 points and 8 assists. DeMar DeRozan struggled mightily, shooting 6-19. With that being said, he did hit some big shots down the stretch as well. The team shot 44% from the field at 52% from the free-throw line which was really frustrating. The missed free-throws nearly costed them the game.
The offense was very balanced – 4 players were in double digits yet nobody scored more than 18. Everyone who played tonight scored the ball at least once.
The bench provided a spark, as Landry Fields and Tyler Hansbrough combined for 15 points. Casey went with a 10 man rotation, which is an improvement. There was no 2 PG line-up which was nice as well, however I expect the rotation to trim down to 8-9. Terrence Ross scored 6 points but only got 12 minutes.
Dwane Casey’s offense didn’t exactly look fluid, but there was more movement than your typical Casey offense. As the season goes on, look for the offense to continue to improve.
Allowing only 87 points will win you plenty of games. The Raptors played solid defense tonight, forcing 22 turnovers which lead to offense. Casey’s defense first mentality was truly seen tonight.
The third quarter meltdown consistent of 34 Boston points, which was obviously woeful defensively. Jeff Green tore the Raptors apart, finishing with 25 points and he was a major factor in that run. A poor line-up on the floor along with poor timeout management continued to stretch out the run until the game was tied. Fortunately, the Raptors limited the C’s to 16 points in the 4th.
Lowry in particular played great defensively. He was much quicker, and stayed in front of his man which limited the Celtics substantially.
Hansbrough and Jonas Valanciunas combined for 23 of the Raptors 48 rebounds. The Celtics had 33 rebounds, and this is what gave the Raptors the biggest edge tonight. Second chance points were absolutely huge, and Hansbrough’s value was shown tonight.
Game Ball – Rudy Gay
I know he didn’t shoot the ball that well, but Gay hit some very, very tough shots when the offense had nothing going. Props to him for closing out this one.