Ford Keys to the Game: Raptors 102, Celtics 122
Raptors 102, Celtics 122
With all of the injuries the Boston Celtics have experienced this season, it’s shocking that the team had been able to rattle off an Eastern Conference-best 27 wins heading into tonight’s contest. The team has, for the most part, found it’s undeniable success without it’s second unit.
When the C’s are fully healthy, Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal, Delonte West, Glen Davis, Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels will be the top reserves off the bench. Tonight, however, no one had to think about that specific group. The team’s third unit, which is currently serving as the second unit, showed us that it can handle the job just fine.
Boston’s reserves began to trickle into the game around the four-minute mark of the first quarter, with the C’s leading by five points. Jermaine O’Neal and Luke Harangody were the first players off the bench, and within 52 seconds of time in which both of those players were on the court, the C’s had already bumped that lead up to nine points, at 26-17.
Marquis Daniels subbed in for Ray Allen with 2:11 remaining in the first while the C’s led by eight points. That left a combo of Daniels, Jermaine O’Neal, Harangody, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce on the court. Over the final 2:11 of the quarter, the Celtics added four points to their cushion to bring the score to 34-22.
During Hrangody’s 3:58 of playing time in the first quarter, he scored eight points on 4-of-4 shooting. Jermaine O’Neal also chipped in a rebound and an assist in 4:24 of playing time and Daniels dished out two assists to go along with two points in his 2:11 on the court.
That assistance from the bench was great, but the run wasn’t over.
Doc Rivers sent a fivesome of Daniels, Harangody, Jermaine O’Neal, Von Wafer and Robinson onto the court to open up the second quarter and the momentum did nothing but grow.
Harangody continued his hot shooting with a 3-pointer to kick off Boston’s scoring and then Robinson and Jermaine O’Neal joined the party. J.O. made an easy layup off of a Robinson assist then blocked a shot at the other end to regain possession for the C’s. During Boston’s ensuing possession, Robinson pulled up for an 18-footer and was nothing but net. After Ed Davis missed two free throws for Toronto, O’Neal slammed home a dunk off of a Wafer assist that put Boston ahead by 17 points.
That run took only 3:06 to complete, taking the score from 34-22 to 43-26. When it all adds up, from the 3:58 mark of the first quarter (when Harangody joined Jermaine O’Neal on the court) to the 8:54 mark of the second, the Celtics reserves had helped the team outscore the Raptors by a count of 21-9.
Toronto never cut the lead below single digits from that point on, and with that the C’s closed out their regular season schedule against Toronto with a 3-1 record. We knew the Celtics were deep, but tonight’s performance shows that they might be even deeper than many thought.
Key Box Score Line
Luke Harangody is going to fall asleep with a smile on his face tonight.
When we entered the regular season, all Doc Rivers could say about Harangody is that his head was spinning because he couldn’t pick up the team’s offensive and defensive sets. That’s typical for a rookie, so it wasn’t a knock on the 6-8 power forward.
Fast forward to tonight’s pregame, with 34 games in the books, and listen to how Rivers feels about the rookie nowadays.
“Luke, in practice, the ones we’ve had, is just – right now I think I like his energy. I know I like his energy,” Rivers said.
Rivers probably didn’t know it, but about three hours later he’d be liking a lot more than his energy.
Harangody came off the bench tonight and performed as if he was back at Notre Dame, dominating the game with his hustle and ability to finish the shots that were given to him. He recorded the game’s only double-double with career highs of 17 points and 11 rebounds. To reach his 11 boards, he attacked the glass for four offensive boards and seven defensive boards. To notch those 17 points, he made eight of his 11 field goal attempts.
Oh, and he chipped in two blocks and an assist, too.
It was just a phenomenal all around night for Harangody, who to this point seemed as if he was pressing a bit. The only thing he was pressing tonight was Toronto, who couldn’t handle him at either end of the floor.
Box Score Nuggets
- After shooting 61.1 percent Wednesday night, the Celtics shot 57.5 percent tonight.
- Boston outrebounded Toronto 43-31.
- Luke Harangody was the only player to record a double-double. He finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
- Paul Pierce tied with DeMar DeRozan for the game-high in scoring with 20 points.
- Boston scored 54 points in the paint.
- After shooting 13-of-16 Wednesday night, Ray Allen shot 6-of-8 tonight en route to 17 points.
- Nate Robinson scored 15 points off the bench for the Celtics.
- Rajon Rondo finished with only seven assists while committing six turnovers.
- Boston shot 11-of-21 from downtown.
- Four players (Harangody, Allen, Andrea Bargnani and Linas Kleiza) scored 17 points apiece.
- Toronto committed only 13 turnovers.
- Harangody accounted for Boston's only two blocks in the game.
- The Celtics scored at least 27 points in every quarter.
- Despite his poor numbers, Rondo finished with the game's top plus/minus ration at plus-23.
Quote of the Night
Doc Rivers on Luke Harangody: "He’s going to fight, he’s going to do whatever he needs to do for you. And the guys appreciate that, honestly. They love effort. When you get guys that come off the bench and play with the effort and the intensity that he plays with, I really think the starters really – they love that. That’s what gets them up and cheering. And that’s why they like him so much. Because they see his effort every day."