Boston Celtics Path to Eastern Domination Halted By Toronto Raptors

The Celtics faltered north of the border as Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors handed Boston its first loss of the season.

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Well you can’t win em’ all. Even though I think some Celtics fans were expecting to. The Boston Celtics fell to the Toronto Raptors 113-101, as Kawhi Leonard and Serge Ibaka led the Raptors to their second win of the 2018 campaign.

Kyrie Irving – a game removed from scoring just 7 points on 2-of 14 shooting – bounced back strong with 21 points and 6 assists in the loss.

The Celtics jumped out to a quick 25-18 lead at the end of the first quarter. They were up 4 after 2.

The game stayed tight through 3 and the Celtics trailed by only 2 points late in the 4th. But the Raptors closed out the game with a 12-2 run to seal the win. The game was far more competitive than the final score would indicate but the Celtics are going to have to contend with this Raptors team all season long. It’s obviously still early but it looks like the Celtics and Raptors are a notch above the 76ers and rest of the East.

Turning Point

With 2:16 to go in regulation, Kyle Lowry drew an offensive foul which was followed up by sequence of plays that set up yet another charge call.

NBCSN Analyst Tommy Heinsohn was none to pleased with the officiating – surprise surprise.

“It all really started with the two offensive fouls called on the Celtics that Kyle Lowry faked the official into,” Heinsohn said during the NBC Sports Postgame Show. “It turned the momentum of the game. And they took them out of their possession. Two good teams going against each other is determined sometimes by how many out of bounds balls you’re getting as the other team. The Celtics played better than they played the other night [against the 76ers]. [But] They’re still searching and are nowhere near what I think they’re capable of doing.”

Hayward Health Check

Gordon Hayward looked much more comfortable in his second game of the year and acknowledged as much after the game.

He was more aggressive seeking out his shot and took it to the hole on a couple occasions. One notable drive early in the 4th saw Hayward cross over a defender score and draw the foul to pull the Celtics even at 84. Still not much lift or explosion but a step in the right direction as Hayward dropped 16 points on 4 of 10 shooting.

“He’s right around the same minutes as last game,” head coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the game. “He played really hard in both games. He’s still trying to find his spots and figure out where to fit in. But you can clearly see he’s a good player.”

Room for Improvement

Jayson Tatum also finished with 16 points to go with 9 rebounds but it looks like he’s still struggling with shot selection now that he’s surrounded with so many other offensive weapons. Tatum can seemingly score from anywhere anytime but still hasn’t figured out the right time to make it “me time.” He committed 5 turnovers on the game trying to force the issue including two offensive fouls late in the game.

What We Learned

The Celtics are better this year but so are the Raptors. Kawhi Leonard looks fully healthy and is a massive upgrade over Demar Derozan. The home crowd reigned down MVP chants on Leonard and it’s hard to argue with them. Leonard was everywhere on Friday night finishing with a game-high 31 points to go with 10 rebounds for his second double-double in as many games this season with Toronto (2-0).

More troubling for the Celtics and their fans, the Raptors are deep and probably the only team in the East that can hang with the C’s in that regard. The Celtics’ first loss of the season also marks Boston’s seventh consecutive loss in Toronto. That’s not great either as the C’s won’t be able to rely on the Raptors wilting under the pressure of facing LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs. If the Celtics want to get by Toronto, they’re going to have to beat them themselves.

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