Quick Reaction: Celtics 109, Raptors 115

Boston Celtics
Recap | Box Score
Toronto Raptors

Luis Scola, PF 25 MIN | 8-12 FG | 2-4 3FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | +10 +/-
Really couldn’t have asked for much more in terms of timely offense. Getting 18 points on 12 shots is great on its own, but when it feels like he didn’t use a single possession that could have been put to better use (save for maybe a JV post here and there), it’s even better.

James Johnson, PF 20 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-2 3FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +9 +/-
Not his greatest showing despite the long-two pull-up and the corner triple. Celtics were mostly unkind, daring Raptors to find him with Crowder over-help. To his credit, really looked for JV when attacking closeouts, had some really nice dump-offs.

Jonas Valanciunas, C 29 MIN | 9-9 FG | 0-0 3FG | 1-2 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | +20 +/-
Hard to overstate the quality of his game or the timing of my piece on him today. The Celtics couldn’t handle him on the dive or on the block, and he had a few really strong defensive possessions while those around him floundered. Good on the team for looking for him often in the third quarter after ignoring him the rest of the game.

Kyle Lowry, PG 37 MIN | 4-11 FG | 4-9 3FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 14 PTS | +16 +/-
His dribble-penetration got a lot going for the team, particularly swinging the ball around the perimeter. Active creating havoc defensively despite somewhat of a tough individual matchup. Foul trouble early on actually benefited him, as he looked fresh for the second half.

DeMar DeRozan, SG 38 MIN | 13-25 FG | 0-1 3FG | 8-9 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 34 PTS | +13 +/-
If you were to rate the degree of difficulty on all 13 of his field goals on a scale of 1-to-10, he’d come out with about a 130. A lot of and-ones and ridiculous finishes and, most encouraging, he helped keep the offense propped up when Lowry sat late in the third, something the team has struggled with even when he’s been hot. Might lose a bit for having some trouble chasing Bradley around, but factor in the playmaking off the bounce, and my “hot take journalism” deems this grade appropriate. (BTW, if you’re that guy, email me, I’d love to have a conversation. Seriously.)

Patrick Patterson, PF 26 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-3 3FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -6 +/-
Really nice defense late and continues to carve out Casey’s trust for late-game scenarios. Really struggled in the first half, though, as the bench-heavy group did their damndest to swing things back Boston’s way. That’s not all on him, of course, but I didn’t think he did enough late to warrant much higher on the whole.

Terrence Ross, SF 28 MIN | 5-9 FG | 4-8 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | -3 +/-
Another pretty strong night for Ross. Was the only part of the bench unit scoring early and was a big piece in the second half, knocking down a couple of big threes and coming through with a big block.

Bismack Biyombo, C 16 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 3FG | 1-4 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | -12 +/-
Pretty unimpressed with him in this one, as his timing seemed off in help defense and he didn’t make his usual impact beyond the start of the fourth, when the Celtics freely hacked him when Lowry was able to pass through their traps at the rim. Thought with how both played, there was no need to platoon the centers late.

Cory Joseph, PG 21 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-2 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -17 +/-
Probably the worst game we’ve seen him play. Poor decision making on offense, dribbling the air out of the ball, and then poor shooting, to boot. Normally, he brings it with defense in those cases, but he seemed completely lost on that end for the most part.

Dwane Casey
Other than the center platoons and going to Valanciunas a bit late, no real complaints about the rotations. But why, exactly, did he make subs for an offensive possession, leave Biyombo in, then sub him out for Valanciunas on a defensive possession? It was confusing given how he played things out the rest of the way. In any case, some good ball movement despite DeRozan’s heavy night, and I’m not sure the lack of Valanciunas touches early goes on him (seemed to be a point of emphasis out of the break).

Five Things We Saw

The Raptors set a season-high with 35 points in the first quarter. They then set a season high with 40 in the third. Against the league’s No. 2 defense. That’s really impressive, especially without the benefit of a high volume of free throws (17) or an unsustainable shooting mark (11/29 on threes).
Not sure what the answer is for the offense when Lowry hits the bench. It was better tonight but DeRozan occasionally can’t lift them up alone, and it’s worth considering a potential tweak to the starting lineup. I know, don’t mess with things during a winning streak, and the bench has been much better of late, but balance between the two groups when Lowry sits is a puzzle I continue thinking about.
I’d really like this as a 2-7 playoff matchup. It’d be so much fun and there are so many interesting matchup wrinkles that could play out (big rotations, Bradley-Crowder on DeRozan, Smart’s presence, Joseph on Thomas, big vs. small lineup question, Celtics hiding Thomas on defense, and so on). Make your joke here about Casey vs. Stevens, but this would be a ton of fun, I think.
Was nice to see Amir Johnson back and getting a great ovation after a video tribute aired. He’s always been a favorite of mine.
The Raptors have now won six in a row, three off the all-time franchise record and one from matching their best mark since 2002. That’s cool. The Heat visit Friday.

Follow @raptorsrepublicFollow @BlakeMurphyODCQuick Reaction: Celtics 109, Raptors 115 originated on Raptors Republic: ESPN TrueHoop Network Blog.

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