5 takeaways from C's loss to Raptors
Five takeaways from Celtics' loss to Raptors: Falling short vs. NBA's best
BOSTON – There’s no getting around the fact that the Celtics have not fared well this season against the better teams in the NBA.
Against teams .500 or better at the time they played, the Celtics are just 5-7.
And against teams that would be top four seeds if the playoffs were today, Boston is a woeful 1-5, which includes Friday’s 101-94 loss to Toronto.
But win or lose, these early-season games are moments the Celtics need to learn from and, with that knowledge, put it to better use going forward.
Here are five takeaways from Friday night:
LIVE BY THE THREE, DIE BY THE THREE
The Celtics have made significant strides when it comes to their overall 3-point shooting, but there are just some nights when you have to question why they seemingly jack up so many. Against the Raptors they took 42 three-pointers and tied a franchise record with 17 made. Most of them were decent looks, but that’s not being efficient. Good ball movement is supposed to take good looks at the basket and turn them into great ones which was something we did not see much of against the Raptors.
CROWDER HAS TO MAKE SHOTS
Crowder has been too good for too long to chalk up the loss to being just one of those bad shooting nights (7 points, 2-for-11 shooting) that all players go through. What made it worse was that Toronto’s Norman Powell, a fill-in starter for DeMarre Carroll, lit Crowder and the Celtics up for 20 points along with tallying a game-high five steals, which was the kind of performance Boston needed from Crowder to help make up for the absence of Isaiah Thomas (right groin).
MORE INSIDE-OUT PLAY NEEDED
Give Toronto credit. The over-reliance on jumpers by Boston was in part predicated by the Raptors’ defense. But there just seemed to be too many possessions where Boston didn’t have the patience offensively to try to get the ball inside to Al Horford and let him facilitate more from the elbow or from the block. Toronto’s defense was good, but not good enough to limit the Celtics to just 22 points in the paint, unless Boston simply didn’t make working the ball inside first, a top priority.
BENCH MAKING STRIDES
The Celtics bench is starting to play like many expected them to, and the key to that of late has been Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown. Both have shown a level of aggression at both ends of the floor in recent games that the Celtics need to see more of going forward. And while Kelly Olynyk (2-for-7 shooting, five points) struggled with his shot, he was more active around the glass and the result was him grabbing a season-high nine rebounds. Jonas Jerebko (eight points on 3-for-5 shooting) continues to be an efficient scorer who plays with great energy defensively. Collectively, they give the Celtics a shot at success when they stick to doing what they do well, at a relatively high level, which has been the case lately.
C’S MISS THOMAS BADLY
With Isaiah Thomas (right groin) out the past two games (and at least one more game), it has become painfully obvious to Celtics fans just how much they need him. And it’s not just his 26 points and 6.2 assists, either. Without Thomas, no one is looking to attack the rim with any consistency for the Celtics, which in turn, opens things up so that those 3's they love to take are more open. Without Thomas, no one is getting to the free-throw line with any regularity. And while the Celtics defensively have more size and versatility without Thomas, his value to this team – especially when it comes to taking on elite teams in the NBA – was never more apparent than on Friday when the Celtics had no answer for the scoring binge Kyle Lowry went on in the second half, when he scored 21 of his season-high 34 points.