The TD Banknorth Garden opened up shop for the first time this year as the Celtics hosted the Raptors in pre-season play. It was the most exciting pre-season game so far for Boston, as they just pulled out a 91-87 victory over Toronto. Nate Robinson scored a team high 13, while seven others scored at least eight points. Jarrett Jack and Leandro Barbosa led the way for the Raptors with 18 and 16 respectively.
The Garden shared it’s debut with Boston newcomer Jermaine O’Neal. O’Neal played only 7:31 and didn’t score, but pulled down a pair of rebounds and rejected three Toronto shot attempts. The rest of Boston’s bench also impressed. Robinson, Delonte West, and Marquis Daniels shot a combined 15-22 from the field.
For the third consecutive game, the Celts came out sharp. Boston took a 21-16 lead into the second quarter and held the Raptors to 30% shooting from the field in the opening frame. The C’s opened up the margin to 15 points when Rajon Rondo knocked down a fade away jumper with 4:18 to go in the half. Toronto was able to cut the lead down to seven, and trailed 46-39 at the break.
The Raptors showed a lot of fight in the second half. The C’s first unit really struggled to mesh, while the Raptors played tough defense and executed well on offense. The Boston lead at the end of three quarters, was only three, 68-65. With most of their starters in, Toronto continued to battle the back-end of the Boston bench. The Raptors took the lead on a layup by Leandro Barbosa just a minute and a half into the fourth quarter. From that point on, no team led by more than four points.
With just 2:49 remaining in the contest Stephane Lasme spun off his man with the ball and through down a momentum-shifting slam dunk that put Boston up 85-84. The C’s refused to give up the lead after that point. Nate Robinson nailed three pointer and Delonte West blocked a Jarrett Jack jumper with less than a minute left in regulation to seal the victory.
Boston’s next tune-up game is Tuesday night at 7:00 in Philadelphia, as the Celtics take on the 76ers.