The Celtics went seeking the Northwest Passage in Toronto, as the Raptore welcomed back Vince Carter. Flush from last night's easy win in Iowa against Minnesota (someone needs to explain why the Timberwolves scheduled a "home" game where the Celtics fans outnumbered the Timberwolves fans), the Good guys looked like they had a good chance to win if they played well.
The form and tone the game would take was set in the first minute as the Raptors came out really sharp and fast and quickly built up a 5-0 lead off Boston miscues. Antoine Walker's shot apparently did not make the trip to Canada. The quarter was competetive as The Good Guys made enough hoops to more or less keep up with Toronto. Pierce continued to pass the ball effectively and get good assists. But Vince Carter showed every sign of being recovered from his surgery. He was running, jumping, rebounding, scoring...especially scoring.
The Celtics did try inserting Vin Baker into the
starting lineup to integrate him more into the flow of things. But
when you've essentially had nothing to do for the first four games, it's
hard to play like you have something useful to do. It was clear that
Baker wanted to be the inside threat, but he simply wasn't familiar with
the plays on either end. Most of what he did, he created on his own
or off broken plays. The first quarter consisted mostly of the Celtics
trying to overcome bad defense and poor rebounding with three point shots.
They needed them because very few shots of any kind went in for the C's
in this game. The first quarter ended with the score 28-23 favoring
This quarter is where it started to go downhill
completely for Boston. Coach o'Brien tried putting the second unit
on the floor as a group, to give them a chance to get into the flow.
In the previous game, their offense was ok, but their defense was choppy.
Good idea, really bad result. Not only was their defense worse, their
offense went south too. They individually did some things well, but
as a team, bleah. By the time the starters came back in, Toronto
had built up a 10 point lead, and the C's were now stuck trying to play
catch-up. On the last play of the quarter, Pierce and Alvin Williams
collided at midcourt, neither one thrilled with the other. The second quarter
ended as the Raptors held the lead at 48-39.
Ok, Basically, the Raptors came out playing hard,
and the Celtics didn't come anywhere near playing the kind of game that
we ALL know they're capable of, even allowing for preseason form.
But for a few three pointers, the Raptors would easily held a double digit
lead by now.
The C's tried, but there was basically nothing
going in the hoop, be it three point bombs or layup attempts. Matters
were made worse by Toronto constantly beating the Celtics off the glass
at both ends. Lots of second and third attempts ensured they'd score
on most trips upcourt. For a moment, there was a hope that a confrontation
between Pierce and Alvin Williams after Alvin tried to rearrange Pierce's
face while ostensibly blocking a shot might ignite the Celtics, but nothing
came of it. In fact, that was the result of nearly everything the
Celtics tried. "Nothing came of it." After every quarter,
the Raptors had doubled their lead. This did not bode well for the
fourth quarter. The third quarter ended with the score 70-53 favoring
The bench was emptied and the scoring actually got worse. The defense was horrendous to start with, so there wasn't much worse it could be. It's not like they weren't trying--it just wasn't working. The Celtics didn't reach the 60 point plateau until there was only 4:58 to go in the game. It took them over 8 minutes to score 8 points, not counting time from the end of the third quarter. The rest of the game was, to be redundant, garbage time. The subs closed the gap--playing against Toronto's bench--and made it look almost respectable in the last couple of minutes. The final score of this atrocity was 84-73 as the Celtics left the arena, Toronto, and Canada as quickly as possible.
About the only positive was that someone finally tried to get Baker involved, but without the benefit of playing meaningful minutes in the first four games, it made him look bad.
Well, no...the other positive was that by the end of the third, there was no chance of overtime.
The Celtics now have time to gather themselves and reacquaint themselves with how to play fundamentally sound basketball until next Wednesday, when the Dallas Mavericks come to town.
And that's the view from the doghouse.