WASHINGTON – There was plenty of blame pie to go around the Boston Celtics after their 111-91 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night.
And Kyrie Irving was the first to point fingers … at himself.
After having missed the three previous games with a right quadriceps bruise, Irving returned to the Celtics lineup and scored 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting.
“As one of the veterans on this team, you know I just have to be better,” Irving said. “So this one’s just mainly on me, kind of just taking responsibility and trying to be better as we move forward.”
While I’m sure Irving’s teammates and the coaching staff appreciate his sentiment, by no means was what happened on Tuesday night the fault of one man.
It was a collective team effort that put them in such a huge hole they were never able to escape from.
And it will be a team effort to get back on track on Thursday when they take on the Washington Wizards.
“We have to compete at a better level physically,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “That’s the part that really stood out to me.”
Here are five takeaways from Boston’s 111-91 loss to Toronto.
TORONTO SUPPORTING CAST IN STARRING ROLE
You know the 1-2 punch of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are going to cause problems for your defense. But when their supporting cast steps up like we saw on Tuesday, that’s when you know you’re going to have big problems. C.J. Miles came off the Raptors bench to score 20 points. Fred VanVleet was the ultimate tactician, finishing with a near double-double of 10 points and eight assists off the bench. Delon Wright had a nice game as well, with 14 points.
NOT ENOUGH SHOTS FOR TATUM
The idea of Jayson Tatum becoming a shot-chucker one I struggle with envisioning. But there’s a magic number of shot attempts – 10 – that he should get everything. Against the Raptors, Tatum was just 2-for-9 from the field while Boston’s record remains steady at 22-7 when Tatum has double figure shots.
ROUGH NIGHT FOR AL HORFORD
The bedrock of the Celtics’ play at both ends of the floor, Toronto wisely did all they could from letting Horford get too comfortable in his role as a facilitator by repeatedly having a defender deny him the ball. Horford only scored two points on 1-for-5 shooting with six assists.
The Boston Celtics didn’t play their best basketball, and the Toronto Raptors made them pay with an emphatic beatdown.
There’s only one way a loss like this won’t be helpful to the Celtics, and that’s if they don’t learn from it.
There will be more losses in the regular season, but learning from them going forward is critical to the steadily improvement of this franchise into being a perennial title-contender.
“You want to learn as much as you can from games like (the Toronto loss on Tuesday); keep it in the back of your mind,” Irving said. “I know I will, and I hope a few more guys will as well.
He didn’t shoot the ball as well as we had seen in his three previous starts, but there was one thing Rozier was able to continue bringing to the game – aggressive play.
Coming off the bench now that Kyrie Irving is back, Rozier promised he would remain in attack mode even as he reverts back to his role as a reserve. He led the Celtics in scoring against Toronto with 18 points that included 4-for-5 from 3-point range which was part of a 5-for-12 shooting night.