It was day two of the new year. While other parties had wound down, the Beantown Ballers had finally found something to celebrate by putting their northern neighbor on the rocks.
With Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo all out with injury, the Boston Celtics stopped the 5 game winning streak of the Toronto Raptors 103-96.
A surprisingly tenacious team defense got the Celtics the lead for good early in the second quarter and they held off a Raptor 4th quarter run to hold on to win # 24 against 8 losses. They limited the Raptors to just 40 points in the middle 2 quarters, building an 11 point lead at 78-67.
Ray and ‘Sheed Lead the Way
Ray Allen led with 23 points and Rasheed Wallace started, adding 16 more as the two of them hit most of the big shots in the game. But they also got nice support from Glen Davis (15 pts), Kendrick Perkins (14 pts), Tony Allen (14) and Eddie House (12) to stop the Raptors in the Garden.
Giddens For the Defense
J.R. Giddens got the first start of his 2 year NBA career and played small forward taking Paul Pierce’s place. Giddens did a credible job defensively against Hedo Turkoglu in 20 minutes of play. Helping to set an early defensive tone, Giddens deflected a pass from Jarrett Jack to Tony Allen in the first quarter. JR scored just 2 points on three shots, but added 2 rebounds, an assist, a steal, a block and 2 turnovers.
Tony Allen Contributes Again
Tony Allen started again and, playing point guard, distributed 7 assists to lead the team and tie for game honors. He contributed 5 rebounds, a steal, a block, and 3 turnovers in 35 plus minutes.
Glen Davis Solid
Apparently recovered from a sprained ankle, Glen Davis played a solid supporting role, providing energy, 5 rebounds, 5 of 9 shooting overall with 5 of 7 free throws for his 15 points in 19 plus minutes. Glen was able to put in a number of contested lay ups, while also drawing numerous fouls against the Raptor bigs.
It was a game that the Celtics could have put in some false effort, played ugly, and after three quarters said ‘oh well’ and folded their tents to head off to a three day lay off. The ‘shortage of man power’ excuse was there. But that would have meant a 4 game losing streak and a lingering bad taste in their mouth.
Instead, the Raptors are a team that the Celtics choose to abuse. They scored 68 points in the paint on them once this season and added 48 more in this contest. Boston’s depleted line up shot a crisp .514 and they out rebounded the Raptors 36-28.
Need for Sheed
This was a game where having a player of Rasheed Wallace’s caliber made a big difference, especially in comparison to Andre Bargnani. With out much effort Wallace shot 6 of 11 on the night and generally manhandled Andre Bargnani.
Wallace added 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. There aren’t too many big men with the versatile inside/outside game that Wallace has that can put up those kind of stats. His effort was huge in winning this game.
Wallace helped get things started in the first quarter with 2 three pointers. In the critical 4th quarter, he scored a turnaround bank shot over Bargnani making the score 86-81, and then stole a Marcus Banks pass.
Toronto Closes with a Kick; Celtics Respond
Celtic defense faded towards the end of game as the Toronto made a late 4th quarter run to cut the lead to 5 or 6 points a number of times. They did with open three pointers by Marco Bellinelli, Jack and Bargnani along with a Bosh hook shot and dunk.
The Celtics answered with 3 baskets for 7 points by the constantly moving Ray Allen, a ‘Sheed dunk around a stuck-in-cement Bargnani, and a clutch Tony Allen lay up right into the defending Chris Bosh.
A Ray Allen lay up made it 101-94 with 48 seconds left. After a Chris Bosh banked hook shot made it 96-101 with 35 seconds left, the Raptors would not score again.
Perkins, and Wallace did a good job of protecting the paint, allowing just 30 points. Toronto averages 41 points in the paint. This was even with some addition pressure on the Celtic bigs. There was one sequence where Perkins appeared a bit upset when he had to foul an uncontested Jack to stop a lay up. The very next time down court, a Marcus Banks driving lay up attempt was snuffed by Eddie House with a solid foul.
Eddie shot 4 for 11, including 2 for 6 from the three point line, adding 4 rebounds and 4 assists in 28 plus minutes.
Since Jarrett Jack has been inserted into Toronto’s starting line up, they were 7-4 until last night. Former Celtic point guard, Marcus Banks, has also found some daylight with the Raptors during their recent run after languishing of the bench for three different teams for the past few years.
While Celtics defense was good enough to keep the offensive minded Raptors (8th in the league in scoring at 103.3) at bay, a porous Raptor defense (they are the second worst in the NBA points allowed) could not do the same.
Ray Allen Active on Offense
Ray Allen often lost his defender on 180 degree screens and pin downs underneath the basket and then split interior defenders Bosh and Bargnani for well timed lay ups.
Perkins led the Celtics with 10 rebounds and shot 5 of 8 with a steal and a blocked shot but had 4 turnovers.
Brian Scalabrine played 15 scoreless minutes, while Shelden Williams added 2 points, an assist and a steal in 11 plus minutes.
‘Les’ Gives More
Rookie guard Lester Hudson acquitted himself well in 12 plus minutes, scoring 5 points on 2 of 3 shooting, while adding 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 turnovers. He played reasonably good defense as well.
The Celtics gave up just 3 fast break points to a Raptor team that averages 13.4. The Celtics had 13 fast break points of their own.
All things considered, this was a solid win for the Celtics. They had been losing games they should have won. This time they played with effort and purpose. No doubt Toronto is one of the league’s softer teams. Their 5 game winning streak including a win over New Jersey, a win over Charlotte and two over Detroit. The lone quality win was against New Orleans if you want to call it that.
Still, I have to think they will start to play somewhat better as the season goes on. Their lack of effort and execution on defense is glaring. Celtic fans should be thankful they are what they are.
Boston plays again Wednesday in Miami against the Heat.