Celtics must learn from Raptors beatdown

Celtics must learn from Raptors beatdown

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. 



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. 



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.



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. 


After torching Celtics, Donovan Mitchell headed north of Boston

File Photo

After torching Celtics, Donovan Mitchell headed north of Boston

First, Donovan Mitchell dropped 28 points on the Celtics as his Utah Jazz won their second game over Boston in as many weeks, holding them to a season-low point total in the process.

Then, the buregoning superstar swung up I-93 to North Andover to cheer on his sister, Jordan, in her girls' soccer contest Sunday morning with his alma mater Brewster Academy:

The Bobcats fell to MacDuffie (Mass.), 1-0, in the NEPSAC Class C championship on the campus of Brooks School.

Mitchell, a New York native, spent the final two years of his high school career on the Wolfeboro, N.H.-based Brewster campus, as famous for its scenic overlook of Lake Winnipesaukee as it is its incredible pipeline of basketball players to high-major college programs and the NBA. Over the last two decades the Bobcats' post-graduate team has featured numerous players who went on to the NBA, including Thomas Robinson, Mitch McGary, Will Barton, T.J. Warren, JaKarr Sampson and Jeff Adrien.

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What to like, not like about the Celtics' loss to the Utah Jazz

What to like, not like about the Celtics' loss to the Utah Jazz

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics were in catch-up mode during most of their Saturday night home loss to the Utah Jazz. It was a game that dropped Boston to 9-7 overall and raised some serious concerns about where this team is now and more important, its direction going forward.

“We have to build a tougher team mindset than we have,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said after Saturday’s loss. “I mean, we just don’t have that mindset yet that we need.”

While no one is panicking, there is a clear and undeniable heightened level of concern within the locker room.


But with most defeats, there are a few silver linings to latch on to as well as areas in clear need of fixing.

So, about last night …


BOARD IT UP: Rebounding continues to be a choose-your-own-adventure proposition for the Boston Celtics, showing signs of being dominant one night and dormant the next. Saturday night was one of the Celtics’ better nights when it came to rebounding the ball, winning the rebounding battle 51-45. It wasn’t like a late-game surge when the game was out of reach, either. Boston was either tied or led in rebounding after each quarter except the first. To do that against a Utah team that has been among the best rebounding clubs this season is a definite positive.

YABA, DABBA DO!: Guerschon Yabusele didn’t get on the floor until the game was out of reach, but Celtics fans – and the coaching staff – certainly had to like what they saw. In nine minutes, he had nine points and a couple rebounds as well as two steals. It was the kind of performance that, if we see Yabusele on the court more consistently in the coming days, we’ll come back to as being the jumping off point for his emergence as a contributor this season.

KYRIE IRVING: He didn’t torch the Utah Jazz like he did the Toronto Raptors on Friday night, scoring 20 points against the Jazz compared to 43 against the Raptors. But what Irving did that stood out was his shooting. He got his 20 points on 8-for-16 shooting, giving him a season-best three consecutive games in which he shot 50 percent or better from the field.


COSTLY FREE THROWS: There’s a pretty long laundry list of things that did not go Boston’s way in Saturday’s loss, most of which the Celtics had control over. Of all those things, nothing stood out more than their struggles at the free throw line. For the game, Boston wound up shooting a season-low 55 percent from the line. That number would have been a lot worst if not for head coach Brad Stevens emptying the bench as the game seemingly got away from them in the latter stages of the third quarter and all of the fourth, which is when Boston’s reserves knocked down their free throws, which raised Boston’s free throw percentage to the above-.500 threshold.

LIVE AND DIE BY THE 3-BALL: Three-point shooting continues to be a feast or famine proposition for the Celtics this season. The Celtics connected on a season-low 15.2 percent (5-for-33) of their 3-pointers against the Jazz. Boston’s struggles weren’t just a starter or reserve-based issue, evident by Boston’s first unit connecting on just three of its 16 three-pointers taken, and the second unit (2-for-17) proving to be even worse.

IRVING ISLAND: For far too many stretches of play Saturday night, Irving looked very much like a man on an island surrounded by an ocean full of sharks donning Jazz jerseys. He scored 20 points on 8-for-16 shooting. And it’s not like Irving was not being a willing passer. He had a team-best 64 touches against the Jazz, passing the ball 45 times but only tallying just three assists in large part because teammates were missing open to lightly contested shots.


Boston hits the road to face a 7-8 Charlotte team on Monday that has lost three of its last four games. The most recent loss was an overtime defeat to Philadelphia in which Kemba Walker scored a career-high 60 points. As we’ve seen repeatedly this season, opposing team’s best scorers have seemingly had a field day knocking down shots against the Celtics. And like Boston, the Hornets will also look to make their mark from long range as they come into Monday's game averaging 12.2 made 3’s per game which ranks 5th in the NBA.

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