Celtics Fall to Raptors in Season Opener

Jeff was all business tonight.

Welcome to the 2013-14 NBA regular season.

Sadly, the Boston Celtics could not secure a victory in their first game, suffocating in the sea of turnovers they committed. As a result, the Raptors walked away victorious, defeating the C’s 87 – 93.

The very first points of the young season for the Celtics were scored by none other than … Vitor Faverani, who scored a little hook shot in the lane to open the game. Overall, the Green team actually had a decent start, quickly gaining a 6-0 lead, playing solid basketball. The middle part of the first quarter was kind of sloppy, however, with turnovers on both sides. The Celtics inexplicably leaned on Vitor (yeah, who else?) for their offensive production early on, with that actually working to some extent – Faverani scored 9 points in the first quarter.  Behind El Hombre Indestructible, the Celtics never trailed in that first quarter, ending it in front with the score at 26 – 21.

The second quarter was not as good to the Celtics, as the Raptors quickly tied the game and then later proceeded to steal the lead. The C’s were pretty dismal on offense, scoring only 4 points in the first six minutes of the quarter. The turnovers piled up and the Green team watched the Raps build up a lead. After Brad Stevens took a timeout, however, the Celtics calmed down and started turning to Jeff Green in the post, making a little run but they soon surrendered another run to the Raptors. As such, the Celtics entered halftime trailing 37 – 49.

The second half also began negatively for the Celtics with the Raptors gunning out to a 16 point lead early in the 3rd. Meanwhile, though, Jeff Green overtook as the leading scorer with 14 for the C’s, hitting an and-one. For a while, it seemed like the uninspired play would continue, but Stevens struck gold with the lineup of Bradley – Green – Wallace – Bass – Humphries. This group showed great energy on defense, sparking a run to whittle the deficit down to just 6 points with just under 3 minutes to play in the 3rd. After trading a few more buckets, a corner three by Green, a WILD (I mean two feet from the line wild) three from Crawford and a last second putback dunk by Bass tied the game as the buzzer signaled the end of the quarter.

The fourth quarter was filled with pretty intense basketball with both teams trading baskets. However, a circus sequence that ended up as a Courtney Lee turnover followed by an Amir Johnson three seemed to break the stalemate and the Raptors once again seized the initiative and didn’t look back. Try as they might, any Celtics attempt to fight back was ultimately doomed because of mistakes, mostly turnovers. The Celts stayed within range to the very end, but they kept shooting themselves in the foot enough times to deny a comeback. As the buzzer sounded, Toronto emerged victorious with the score of 87 – 93.

Let me get to the bullet points right away.

  • Kelly Olynyk scored his first NBA basket with a little over a minute left in the first quarter with a reverse layup in the paint. His overall game, however, was rather underwhelming. His rebounding was sub-par and defensively Kelly often looked lost. But it’s the kid’s first game, so that is forgivable.
  • For the most part, defense down low was rather weak. The Raptors feasted on points in the paint.
  • Brandon Bass played a very efficient game and was in control tonight. He shot 6/7 FGs and 5/5 FTs en route to 17 points.
  • Another player who played well tonight was Jeff Green. He answered the bell with 25 points to lead all scorers.
  • Courtney Lee didn’t help his case of rediscovering his confidence. He played a fairly invisible 15 minutes. For the one time that he really was noticeable, he missed a fast break layup, then messed up the recovered rebound by stepping out of bounds. That play could be defined as the backbreaker that grinded Boston’s comeback effort to a halt. Ouch.
  • Turnovers, oh God. All that blood from the turnovers. Every time the Celtics seemed to be making a push, they made a costly turnover. And when the Raptors made runs, it seemed like they were all off Boston’s turnovers. The C’s are really going to have to cut back on the numbers of TOs, 22 is too many.
  • The Avery Bradley point guard experience is not pleasant. The problem is that the Phil Pressey one didn’t look much more promising tonight.
  • Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries are the Hustle Duo. Lord, do they work hard to get theirs.
  • Brad Stevens coached a solid game, I think. The only thing I did not agree with was keeping the successful lineup of Bradley – Green – Wallace – Bass – Humphries on the bench for too long in the 4th. The rest was good coaching.

So there you have it, the 2013-14 season is underway. All in all, the Celtics played a decent brand of basketball, given the circumstances. Now we watch if they can keep that up and improve going forward. As we’ve discussed often in the offseason, this is a process.

P.S. By the way, we had a big upset happen during the game. As the 4th quarter was winding down, our fellow tank brethren the Sixers beat the Heat in Philly 114 – 110.  We may no longer pose a threat to Miami ourselves, but I still can’t resist smiling at them get smacked.

Old habits die hard.

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