Celtics 79, Raptors 84
Ever heard of a trap game? Tonight’s contest between the red-hot Celtics and the ice-cold Raptors, taking place on Friday the 13th, was like a trap game on steroids.
Boston entered this game having pulled off an incredible sweep of a back-to-back earlier this week and has been storming up the Eastern Conference standings for a solid two months. It was tipping off its lone back-to-back-to-back set of the season tonight, but all three of those contests were set to come against very poor squads.
First up was the Raptors, who entered this game having dropped four straight games and were missing their two best players, Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon. Without those two players, Toronto was forced to play a journeyman point guard and two recent NBA Development League players in its eight-man rotation.
And that’s what you call a trap game.
Boston jumped out to a 13-point lead in the first quarter but fell asleep after that. It managed to hold onto a six-point advantage at halftime, but that lead was long gone just minutes into the third period.
Toronto opened up the second half with a 19-4 run that turned that six-point Boston lead into a nine-point advantage for the home team. Once the Raptors took the lead during that run, at 40-38, it never played from behind for the remainder of the night.
The Celtics can thank some porous defense and terrible shooting for their inability to sidestep this trap game. They made just four field goals in the third quarter and shot 23.5 percent in the stanza. On the other end of the court, the Raptors tore Boston’s vaunted defense apart to the tune of 27 points and 52.9 percent shooting.
When it came down to the final minutes of the game and the C’s were trailing by double-digits, they decided to flip the switch and play as if the Miami Heat was the opposing team. That energy helped them slice the deficit all the way down to one in the final minute, but it was all for naught.
As Boston learned tonight, trap games are a dangerous thing, and you can’t take any team in this league lightly.
Maybe that will be a good lesson for the C’s to learn heading into the final two legs of this back-to-back-to-back.
Key Box Score Line
You know it’s an ugly game when you take a look at the box score and can’t really find a Key Box Score Line. No one in this contest played great, but the man who came through when it mattered most was DeMar DeRozan.
DeRozan scored a game-high 22 points tonight and did so in impressive fashion. His jumper was off, but he still found a way to get the job done. While being defended by two of the best stoppers in the league, Avery Bradley and Mickael Pietrus, DeRozan powered his way to the free-throw line for a whopping 13 attempts. He made every single one of them, including four critical makes in the final 30 seconds that prevented a monumental meltdown by the Raptors.
The third-year shooting guard didn’t do much else tonight other than make free throws, as he contributed just two rebounds and two assists, but those points were all that really mattered. He led Toronto to this victory and took advantage of a Celtics team that seemingly took this contest for granted.
Box Score Nuggets
- DeMar DeRozan shot 13-of-13 from the free-throw line en route to a game-high 22 points.
- Four Raptors grabbed at least eight rebounds, led by Ed Davis' 12.
- Rajon Rondo had seven assists in the first quarter and then five total over the final three quarters. He finished with a game-high 12 helpers.
- Kevin Garnett led Boston with 10 rebounds.
- Linas Kleiza's 17 points off the bench for Toronto surpassed the entire output of Boston's bench, which totaled just 15 points.
- Both teams led by double-digits in the game.
- Neither team shot better than 38 percent from the floor.
- Boston actually outshot Toronto by 2.8 percent, but made 12 less free throws and three less 3-pointers than the Raptors did.
- Toronto made just 25 field goals in the game.
- Toronto made more free throws (27) than field goals (25).
- None of Toronto's players made more than four shots, while four Celtics made at least five.
- Boston limited Toronto to just two fast-break points in the game.
- Paul Pierce led Boston with 18 points.