Celtics show absolutely no effort, get demolished by Raptors 118-95
The Boston Celtics embarrassed themselves on national TV with a 118-95 loss to the Toronto Raptors. There was no effort, execution, or passion up and down the roster, and they were rightfully pounded into the ground by a better team. It's time to question anybody and everybody on this team, and take a serious look at who deserves to get minutes down the stretch.
After much speculation since the Chicago loss on Saturday, Brad Stevens stuck with his starting lineup to open the game. Stevens said he was disappointed in himself and his rotations in the team's most recent loss, but at least to start, he stuck with what he has known.
Both teams started the game getting whatever looks they wanted on the offensive end. I don't know if it was just me, but the game didn't have the same type of playoff intensity like when these two teams met up earlier in the season.
Pascal Siakam fueled the Raptors in the first quarter. One of the most improved players in the league this season, Siakam knocked down three corner threes and had 11 of Toronto's first 24 points.
Think the #Celtics may want to stop leaving Siakam open in the corner. #Raptors.
While no Boston starter made a huge impact in the opening quarter, Jaylen Brown came off the bench and gave the team an immediate spark on offense. Brown has had a habit of coming out and scoring early and often over the past few weeks, and tonight was no different. He knocked down a nice fadeaway jumper in the post, and then took it to the rim and scored through contact on his way to seven points in just three minutes.
After a bit of a slow start on the offensive end, the Celtics were able to get things going as the time ticked down in the first quarter. They were able to get out in transition and a few of the open looks they were getting early in the quarter started to drop. They were also able to get to the free throw line.
Best part of the quarter for the Celtics was actually getting to the line. 6-7 on free throws and a 32-30 lead.
The Celtics scored the first two points of the second quarter, but then Toronto went on a 18-0 run to open up a 14 point lead, the biggest of the game for either team. Kyle Lowry was an irritant all over the court during the run, but contributed a few hustle plays (or fouls, depending on what team you root for), which led to back-to-back-to-back threes. Marc Gasol, Toronto's big trade deadline acquisition, made his mark during the second quarter run. His ability to stretch the floor and facilitate on the offensive end were a huge addition for the Raptors, and they were on full display.
Boston simply couldn't get any quality offensive looks with Kyrie Irving on the bench. They looked disjointed and sloppy, and coughed up the ball a number of times. Brown had things going in the first quarter, but put his head down too often and forced the issue too much as the second quarter rolled around. With Gordon Hayward having a rough start (1-5 from the field with a number of good looks), there just wasn't enough offense to compete with the improved Raptors bench.
As the second quarter continued, the Celtics did nothing to stop the Raptors from running up the score. Their defense was terrible, their offense was stagnant, and they didn't even looked bothered to make things better.
Just a pathetic second quarter from the Celtics so far. They've done almost nothing right.
After leading 32-30 after the first quarter, the Celtics were outscored 36-13 in the second and went into the halftime break down 66-45. There is no excuse for this type of play and, more importantly, this type of effort. Regardless of Boston's struggles playing in Toronto, the Raptors aren't this much better than the Celtics. The C's have proved that they can compete with the elites of the Eastern Conference, but this lifeless play with no energy is just inexcusable. Frankly, I should end the recap here, but I'll struggle through the second half so you don't have to.
Just a terrible performance so far for #Celtics. Al Horford 1 rebound in 15 minutes; Marcus Smart is a minus 24 in 15 minutes; Hayward missed three open 3's; Brown looks engaged but then picks up silly third foul with hero ball play.
Marcus Smart, who has been the heartbeat of this team for most of the season, tried to hustle his team back into the game to start the second half. His defense and tenacity spurred the Celtics to a 7-2 run to start third quarter, but Boston was looking a very steep uphill battle.
Kawhi Leonard started to impose his will on the game in the third quarter just when the Celtics looked to be getting a little momentum. With the depth that Toronto has, sometimes it's easy to forget how good Leonard is. After Boston cut the Raptor lead down to 15 points in the middle of the second, Leonard scored six points and had two assists to help push the lead back out to 26, and put the game away.
At this point in the season, the Celtics don't deserve your respect, they don't deserve your fandom, and they don't deserve to be in the conversation of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. The time is ticking down on this season, and if there is a switch that's going to be flipped, you better hit that motherf*er now and hit it hard. Because if this team doesn't turn the corner, we are looking at a first round playoff exit, losing Kyrie in free agency, and a whole lot of questions about the direction of this team.
It's time to put up, or shut up. Period.
Follow Connor Casey on Twitter @Connor_Casey5
Photo via USA Today/Sports