The Boston Celtics found themselves in an unfamiliar place Tuesday night – trying to make sense out of a humbling blowout loss.
Toronto’s 111-91 win over Boston doesn’t do justice to how lopsided this game was pretty much from the second quarter going forward.
And while DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are the anchors to all that this team does, it was the Raptors bench that really swung the game’s momentum in Toronto’s favor.
The Raptors’ bench would go on to score 59 points, 28 of which came in the decisive second quarter which is when Toronto outscored Boston 36-19.
Boston players and coaches acknowledged that Toronto as a team played a better game. But a key part of their success was the play of the bench.
“Their bench has been killing everybody,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “We looked slow. We looked like we weren’t ready to react to their speed or physicality. Credit them; they played great.”
Boston’s Al Horford echoed similar sentiments.
“I felt they came out, they did everything they wanted to do,” said Horford, referring to Toronto’s second unit. “They helped them build the lead and in the third quarter the starters kept it going. They were the better team tonight.”
Toronto’s bench, while not one filled with household names, has been effective most of this season and is one of the reasons why Toronto has been breathing on the Celtics’ neck for the top spot in the East.
Boston (39-16), which had its four-game winning streak snapped, now has a one game lead over the Raptors (37-16).
According to Hoopsstats.com, Toronto’s bench averages 39.4 points scored per game which ranks 10th in the NBA. Boston’s bench is a bottom-10 unit when it comes to scoring.
They average 31.6 points scored per game and are ranked No. 23 in the league.
“We got hit tonight,” said Kyrie Irving who had 17 points in his return to Boston’s lineup after missing three games with a right quadriceps bruise. “We got hit early, and they consistently hit you … they buried us which is what good teams should do.”
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As disappointing as the Celtics were with the result and their overall play, there’s no time to dwell on what happened Tuesday night, not with another tough road game at Washington on the horizon.
“It’s on to the next one,” Irving said. “That’s the attitude you have to have. You want to learn as much as you can from games like this; keep it in the back of your mind. I know I will, and I hope a few more guys will as well.”