Celtics-Raptors takeaways: Horford a bright spot in blowout loss


The Toronto Raptors spoiled the Boston Celtics' home opener Friday night.

With a brutal 115-83 loss, the C's are still searching for their first win of the 2021-22 season. Scottie Barnes, Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. did most of the damage for Toronto with 29, 25 and 21 points, respectively. Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 18 while Josh Richardson added 12 off the bench.

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Here are a few immediate takeaways from the defeat, which brings Boston to 0-2.

Offensive rebounds, turnovers make the difference

It isn't difficult to figure out why the Celtics were unable to keep up with the Raptors in this one. Between their sloppiness on offense and rebounding woes, they were their own worst enemy.

Toronto outrebounded Boston 63-48, but it was the offensive boards that haunted the C's all night long. The Raptors had 21 offensive rebounds to the Celtics' 10. They tallied 23 second-chance points to Boston's four.

Those weren't the only numbers that jumped off the page. The Celtics turned the ball over an astounding 25 times to the Raptors' 11. Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Dennis Schroder combined for 14 of those C's turnovers.

It's far too early to worry, but it's clear Boston has plenty to clean up as it looks ahead to Sunday's game vs. the Houston Rockets.

Al Horford throws a block party

If you're looking for a bright spot in such a lopsided loss, look no further than Al Horford. The Celtics big man is back for his second stint in Boston and he shined in his season debut.

Horford notched a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, but it was his defense that turned heads Friday night. The 35-year-old blocked a game-high five shots and looked spry on both ends of the court.


While the game's final result was far from ideal, Horford's performance leaves C's fans with something to be encouraged about going forward. Like Jaylen Brown in the season opener, he didn't miss a beat in his first game back from COVID-19.

Jayson Tatum bounces back, Jaylen Brown struggles

Another positive takeaway from the otherwise dismal Celtics performance was Jayson Tatum's bounce-back effort. The two-time All-Star struggled mightily in the season opener, hitting only seven of his 30 shots. He was far more efficient this time around going 8-for-14 with 18 points. Not a dominant showing by any means, but much better than what we witnessed a couple of nights ago at Madison Square Garden.

It was the opposite for Brown, who dropped a career-high 46 points in the season opener. Against Toronto, he shot just 3-for-13 from the field to finish with a modest nine points. He also had five turnovers.

It goes without saying, but the Celtics will need both Tatum and Brown playing at a high level if they're to turn things around after their 0-2 start. They'll head to Houston next as they begin a quick two-game road trip.