Celtics

Talking Points: Raptors 86, Celtics 74

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Talking Points: Raptors 86, Celtics 74

TORONTO There was no mistaking Thursday night's overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers was both physically and emotionally draining on the Boston Celtics.

Having another game on the road less than 24 hours later doesn't afford much in terms of recovery time.

The Celtics can attest to that, losing 86-74 to the lowly Raptors (9-19). Jose Calderon had a team-high 17 points and 14 assists. The Celtics (14-12) were led by Kevin Garnett's 17 points and eight rebounds.

Boston's last gasp at a comeback all but ended when Calderon nailed a 3-pointer with 1:38 to play to put the Raptors ahead by 12, and essentially seal Toronto's win.

Boston's starters were, in a word, horrible.

They couldn't make shots.

They couldn't defend.

They couldn't rebound.

It was the kind of showing that harkened back memories of the pre-Big Three era when victories were few and far between.

Boston trailed by as many as 16 points in the first quarter.

It could have been a lot worse if not for Avery Bradley, who was not supposed to play because of a sore right shoulder.

Although he only had three points, Bradley's on-the-ball pressure and even more important, his presence, was instrumental in the C's trailing by just seven (41-34) at the half. His plusminus ratio at the half was plus-seven, better than any other Celtic player.

Bradley didn't play a single minute in the second half, and the energy surge he brought was clearly absent as the C's found themselves in a 12-point deficit going into the fourth quarter.

Boston was a desperate team at both ends of the floor, even using some zone defense - actually, quite a bit of zone defense in the fourth quarter.

It seemed to work on all the Raptors except one - Linas Kleiza. He came off the bench to score nine points - all in the fourth, and all against Boston's porous zone defense.

Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

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Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

PHILADELPHIA – For the third time in as many games, the Boston Celtics will field a different lineup.

It will have a domino effect on Boston’s usual starters, but no one more than Al Horford who will slide over to power forward with Aron Baynes inserted into the starting lineup where he’ll be charged with trying to defend Sixers 7-footer Joel Embiid.

Meanwhile, Horford will be assigned to defend Robert Covington who is one of Philadelphia’s better perimeter scorers.

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“I feel like one of my strengths is being able to play multiple positions,” Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “It presents a different challenge for me, which is making sure I do a good job of covering him out on the perimeter, staying between him and the basket.”

In Philadelphia’s 120-115 season-opening loss to Washington, Covington led all Sixers with 29 points which included him going 7-for-11 from 3-point range in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.

While Covington will be Horford’s first defensive assignment, he knows he will also be called upon at times to defend Embiid who ranks among the best centers in the NBA despite having played just 32 games over the course of three NBA seasons.

In the loss to the Wizards, Embiid had a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Horford’s defense will be critical for Boston (0-2) to get its first win of the season, but the Celtics will also need him to take advantage of scoring opportunities as well.

“We have some guys down, but that creates opportunities for other guys to step up and contribute,” Horford said. “It’s going to all of us, the veterans, the young players, all of us to get that first win.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens agreed.

“I think that’s how we have to look at it,” Stevens said. “We’re going to have to make a few tweaks on how we do things, obviously. Hey, it’s gonna be something that we’re going to have to do really, really well on the fly.”

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