The Toronto Raptors begin their 19th season tonight against the same team they played to close out 2012-13 in April. However, this version of the Celtics could be considered a pale shadow of the Big Three era in Boston. No Kevin Garnett, no Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo is injured and Doc Rivers is coaching in Los Angeles. Celtics new rookie Head Coach Brad Stevens will be fielding a starting lineup that Bostonians wouldn’t recognize last year. The Raptors on the other hand will start the same five they finished last season with. Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas are back to continue the 5 game winning streak they ended last season with.
Rudy Gay started the formalities by addressing the sold out crowd at the ACC followed by a new video featuring the team’s Global Ambassador Drake.
Not dressed for Toronto were Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray. Celtics starters were Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace, Brandon Bass and Vitor Faverani.
The Raptors started this game slow and nervous. Gay and DeRozan missing long jumps shots and the team had a pair of turnovers while Boston started off hitting their first 3 shots before Toronto settled down. Rudy Gay missed his first 3 shots before making his next 2. Jonas Valanciunas defends the paint with 2 early blocks and 6 boards in 9 minutes.
Hansbrough was first off the bench for Johnson who had 2 personal fouls after 4 minutes. Steve Novak and Landry Fields replaced Valanciunas and Gay after the timeout with 3 minutes left and the game tied at 16.
Celtics run out to a 26-20 lead with 6 consecutive points as the quarter runs down. Lowry closed the gap by drawing a foul on a drive with 1 sec left. 26-21 Celtics after 1 quarter. Surprise starter Faverani led the Celtics with 9 points and 2 blocked shots.
Gay opens the second quarter with a made jump shot. Then Novak nails the corner three to tie the game at 26. Gay started this game 0-3, now is 4-8 four minutes into the second quarter. Casey is keeping two starters on the floor as he keeps his rotation tight in the first half.
Faverani comes back into the game early in the second quarter and has been the best Celtic on the court.
49-37 Raptors at the half. Raptors out shoot Celtics 44.7 percent to 41.9 percent, out rebound them 24-15 and have fewer turnovers 7 to 12. Celtics go 11-17 from the free throw line versus 5-11 for Toronto.
Gay leads the Raptors with 8 points on 4-8 shooting. Johnson, Valanciunas, Lowry, Ross and Fields have 6 points each. Valanciunas and Hansbrough lead with 6 rebounds each. Casey uses 10 players in the half.
Faverani leads the Celtics with 13 points on 4-9 shooting. Green has 11 points on 3-7. Olynyk 2 points, no rebounds on 1-3 shooting.
Raptors start to build a lead over the first 6 minutes of the second half, 63-48. DeRozan, who was 1-8 in the first half hits a jumper and a 3-bomb on his first two shots after the break. But, Raptors relax and let Boston go on a 11-2 run, taking poor shots and not making the same effort on defense, 65-59.
Soon after, Raptors have their 8th turnover in the quarter and the Celtics Green hits the 3-ball to close to within 3 points, 69-66.
After 3 quarters, the score has closed to 71 all. Celtics run out to a 74-71 lead in the 4th quarter, but Hansbrough brings the Raptors back with 3 rebounds, a putback, 1 free throw and a block to help tie the game at 76. Momentum changer. Hansbrough comes out as the Raptors go back to their starters but the game had swung back to Toronto.
Toronto goes on a 12-2 run to open up a 90-80 lead that they nursed all the way to the end.
93-87 final. Celtics shot 48.5 percent from the field, but turned the ball over 22 times and were out rebounded 48-33. The Raptors shot 44.2 percent, but took 20 more shots than the Celtics. Unfortunately Toronto bricked everything from the free throw line going 12-23. The Raptors turned the ball over 17 times themselves.
Gay lead Toronto with 19 points and 8 rebounds on 8-18 shooting and was clutch in the 4th quarter. Tyler Hansbrough led everyone with 12 rebounds and also scored 7 points and rejected 3 shots. Valanciunas just missed the double-double with 8 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Green had a big game for the Celtics with 25 points on 8-16 shooting that kept his team in this contest. Brandon Bass had 17 points on 6-7 shooting, but only had 2 rebounds. Kris Humphries impacted this game in 21 minutes as the only Celtic who could rebound. Humphries finished with 8 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks. He should have played more. Rookie Kelly Olynyk scored 4 points on 2-5 shooting, but had 0 rebounds and 0 assists in his first NBA game in his home town.
Quote of the game: DeMar DeRozan (shot 6-19), “We was Rusty!”
Raptors winning streak sits at 6 games going back to last season. Toronto plays in Atlanta on Friday and back-to-back on the road in Milwaukee on Saturday.