Celtics fall apart in the second half, lose to the Raptors 101-94

With the rival Toronto Raptors coming into town, the Celtics were looking to get themselves within a game of first place in the Atlantic division. Boston entered the contest short-handed with Isaiah Thomas missing his second straight game, inserting Marcus Smart into the starting lineup again. Match-ups between these two teams may likely determine final seeding positions come playoff time, making this first meeting an important one for both sides.

Early on Al Horford was feeling it from deep, draining two quick three-point shots. Even Amir Johnson joined in as the big-man hit his first trey from the corner. Midway through the first both teams were evenly trading baskets, yet the C's held the slight advantage, 16-14. The quarter ended with the Celtics maintaining their lead over Toronto. All-Star Demar Derozan seemed to have been injured on the final play, though it doesn't look like it will be anything serious.

The Celtics continued to rely on the three ball to being the second quarter, having taken 13 shots from beyond the arc out of 28 total field goal attempts. Jaylen Brown continued his momentum from the previous game, playing well on both sides of the ball coming of the bench.

The second-unit for the Celtics went on to increase the lead up to double-digits, creating some exciting Kelly Olynyk highlights along the way.

At the end of the first half, the Celtics led, 50-42, over the Raptors. Some notable stats worth mentioning includes both teams shooting the ball very efficiently from three-point territory. Boston connecting on 9-19, while Toronto shot 4-9. The C's need to emphasize getting to the free-throw line, only three total attempts for the team so far, but this is to be somewhat expected with I.T out.

Toronto came out of halftime a bit stagnant, while the Celtics were capitalizing on almost every opportunity. With Smart and Avery Bradley drilling three-balls, the team increased their lead to 12, forcing coach Dwayne Casey to call an early timeout. Then the game began to take a turn for the worse, four quick turnovers by the C's allowed the Raptors to slowly claw their way into the game, missing their opportunity to try and blow the game wide open. Kyle Lowry began to catch fire, converting on a four-point play, leading to a late change of the lead in the third quarter. The whistle then began to play a factor, hurting the Celtics and eventually increasing Toronto's advantage up to as much as eight points.

With a decent margin to enter the fourth quarter, Toronto continued to play well, giving the Raptors their first double-digit lead of the game. Norman Powell was a key part of the Raps being able to maintain their success, especially with Derozan and Kyle Lowry on the bench. For a large part of the fourth, without their All-Star point guard, Boston just could not score in the last quarter of play. This forced the Celtics to try and make a late push in order to get back into the contest.

Yet, it turned out to be a case of too little, too late. Toronto beats Boston, 101-94.

Player of the Game: Kyle Lowry (34 points, going 12-13 from the free throw line).

Photo Credit: Brian Babineau

Follow Spencer Tawes on Twitter: @SWTawes