The Green Gang came into the Air Canada Centre with nothing to lose and they didn’t. Well…not quite. They lost the game. But they left Celtics fans thinking (rubbing their chin) what the future might hold with a healthy Rondo and some chemistry.
In the first and third quarters, the Celtics demonstrated the type of poise that would make Celtics’ legend and long-time broadcaster Tommy Heinsohn want to return to coaching. Fueled by Jeff Green’s 25 points, the young visitors left the Toronto home crowd wondering if their home opener would be foiled by Brad Stevens’ bunch. The Raptors soared to an early first half lead, extending it to twelve by halftime and later to sixteen in the third period.
With a team shooting percentage of 53% in the third quarter using a concentrated approach reminiscent of the days of Bird, McHale, Parrish, Ainge, DJ, Walton….yeah, you get the picture. Jeff Green (9 pts.), along with Brandon Bass (10 pts.) and Jordan Crawford, who chipped in with a 3-point basket that was possibly shot from the TD Convention Center parking lot, spurred a 23-8 run to tie the score at 71 going into the fourth quarter.
In basketball it’s said that defense is your best offense. That’s exactly what the little C’s could have used a good measure of down the stretch of this contest. The Raptors opened up a ten point lead with 2:34 left in the final quarter after Boston didn’t make a basket for over three minutes. It’s clear where Coach Stevens will focus his acute attention to detail in the next Celtics’ practice.
At times the Celtics appeared to forget where the other team was on the court, allowing ordinary players (Rudy Gay) to look like potential MVP candidates. Gay, the seven year swingman/journeyman, scored 19 points and made it look like the Memphis Grizzlies made a mistake in trading him.
All this might sound tragic but the truth of the matter is the Boston Celtics lost their first game in the Brad Stevens’ era by a grand total uuuuf………..(drum roll PLEASE!)….6 points! Not shabby at all! A gutsy effort from a squad still figuring out its starting lineup and bench rotation while playing its first game on the road.
Enough said, 81 more to go.by