And that’s why my jersey is a Jose Calderon jersey.
To beat the best, you really have to show your best. Luckily the Raptors had some great nights from a handful of players and finally managed to break the 100 point mark in just one of the very few times this year. Nevertheless, it was a game that we could say that the Raptors played at a high level on one end, but also managed to goof things up on the other. Playing with huge turnovers and unable to box out the also hot shooting Celtics, the Raptors had to put up an almost superhuman effort to beat the Celtics by two.
Just how big of a problem are turnovers and rebounds? The Raptors took 69 shots to get to 114, while the Celtics had 89 shots. That’s right. The Celtics had 20 more possessions than the Raptors did in the game. Just taking a look, the Raptors were out rebounded by 12 rebounds on the offensive rebounds and committed six more turnovers. In fact, this is a common recipe of how the Raptors can shoot almost a full 10% better than most opponents, yet still manage to almost lose.
In any case, there’s a lot to be positive about in this game. For example, Andrea managed to show us an all-star capable half as he was able to rebound and shoot like nobody’s business. With all the focus on Chris Bosh for most of the first half, it was Bargnani’s turn to shine as he managed to grab seven rebounds in the first half. With solid contributions from Anthony Parker and Jose Calderon, the Raptors sustained their momentum throughout the entire game, never letting Boston get too far out of their sights and pull away unlike the other three games of the season. Add to that fact that every single Raptor starter except Jamario Moon got to the free throw line, and you have a team that had a chance by the end of the game. Throw Delfino into the mix and Rasho giving a few good minutes off the bench, and the Raptors pulled off the upset.
However, as well as Bargnani and Delfino might have played the game, Jamario Moon was often horrible. Often getting caught with the wrong defensive assignment, he often left his man open way before double team was required. On one particular play, the ball was getting swung around the perimeter but Jamario was nowhere to be seen, getting caught between both Pierce and Allen. He then showed to double Allen in the corner who promptly gave a pass to a cutter who got inside and scored. The problem with this is that Bargnani was made to look bad on the play, but it was Moon’s glaring mistake that caused the beginning of the chain reaction. In addition, Moon refused to bring the ball into the paint where the Celtics were have all kinds of trouble with the Raptor’s penetration.
Finally, something has to be said about Chris Bosh’s lackluster night. While he managed to get to the free throw line and eventually rebound the ball, Chris made an incredible seven turnovers to one assist for the game. Often, these turnovers came off the dribble, which continues to be a problem for Chris in particular, especially since he needs to drive the basketball in order to rack up fouls against his opponents. Nevertheless, Chris managed to come alive in the second half after Bargnani regressed a little, which was just enough to put the Raptors over the top.
The words “statement game” were bounced around a lot in the media after the game, especially by Leo Rautins. While I believe that this was an important win for our boys, it’s not the complete dismantling of a team that the Raptors did to the Nets earlier this year. There are going to be very few 58% shooting nights, and especially not that many times that the Raptors can hit 71% from beyond the arc. What this proves is that the Celtics are not invincible, and that the Raptors, if they could shore up two key areas of rebounding and free throws, would not be that far from being an elite team in the NBA. However, it’s those key areas that will continue to haunt the club until Bryan Colangelo pulls the trigger and makes a deal.
Next Game: Milwaukee @ Toronto