1/4 Game Preview: Celtics at Raptors
The Toronto Raptors will attempt to correct a stumbling start to their season on Monday when they host the Boston Celtics at their temporary home in Tampa, Fla.
They will catch the Celtics on the second half of back-to-back games. Boston posted a 122-120 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday following a 16-foot jumper by Jayson Tatum with 2.9 seconds to play.
Tatum has made the game-winning shot in two of Boston's four wins.
"I want to be in that situation," Tatum said. "So just learn from the shots that I do make, learn from the shots that I don't."
The key to a turnaround by the Raptors would be the return to form of struggling Pascal Siakam, who fouled out of a 120-116 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans Saturday. He scored 10 points in 25 minutes.
"He struggled, no doubt about it," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "I thought he had a few decent plays and a few good drives in there, but he obviously struggled. Half-count off rhythm there at both ends a little bit, which is getting him in foul trouble and not letting him be able to finish some plays at the offensive end as well."
Siakam was kept out of the victory over the New York Knicks Thursday for disciplinary reasons. The reasoning? He went directly to the locker room Tuesday after fouling out in the loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. When he fouled out Saturday with 8:30 to play in the game, he went to the bench.
After Siakam fouled out, the Raptors had a 14-2 surge and led 113-111 with three minutes to play. The Pelicans took over to beat Toronto for the second time this season.
"We're not accustomed to this, so these hurt and guys are down, obviously, after a loss," said Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, who scored 27 points Saturday.
"But we have to stay confident because nobody's feeling sorry for us."
The Celtics, who eliminated the Raptors in the second round of the playoffs last season, have had their own struggles. They lost their third game of the season Friday in Detroit.
"This is what I've anticipated," Boston coach Brad Stevens said. "Like I've said this before, we've got a lot of questions to answer. There's a lot of people playing new roles, new responsibilities, new pressures that come with that. This is exactly what I thought it would be like.
"Obviously, I wish we would have played better (Friday) at the start. I think being in it, this is pretty predictable. It's going to continue to be challenging. We have to improve in areas we can control."
Jaylen Brown led Boston with 31 points Sunday on 13-for-16 shooting.
Tatum had 24 points, a career-best 12 assists and had two blocks, including one on Blake Griffin's desperation 30-footer at the end of the game.
Marcus Smart, playing with a bruised left shoulder, had 17 points and 10 assists.
"It was a great bounce-back game," said Smart, who had the assist on Tatum's game-winner. "I'm excited for the win. I'm happy for my guys, the way they played, the way they fought."
"(Smart) has bailed us out on so many occasions over the years that I appreciate how much he's trying to do the right thing on every possession," Stevens said.
"Marcus Smart is the heart and soul of this team," Brown said.
The Celtics won three of the four regular-season meetings with the Raptors in 2019-20.