Raptors have no answer for Celtics in season's worst performance

Aaron Rose

There was nothing more Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse could do but clap his hands and yell.

"Come on," he yelled, clapping his hands from the sideline. "Come on!"

It was late in the third quarter and the Raptors trailed the Boston Celtics 84-57. Seconds later Brad Wanamaker hit an uncontested layup and Nurse called a timeout.

The game couldn't end soon enough.

When the fourth finally ended, the Raptors turned in their worst performance of the season, falling 122-97 to the Celtics on Friday night.

"I hate to say it, there's nothing really I learned, or I don't really see anything," Nurse said. "The only thing I probably did learn is we've got to get a couple of our guys playing a little better, I'm not really concerned about some of the main guys, but there's a couple guys that need to play a little better since the restart and I'm glad we still have four games to get them going and give them that chance."

The Raptors were all out of sorts right from the jump. They set a new season-low in the first half, scoring just 37 points on 32.6% shooting. They made just three 3-pointers in the half and to make matters worse they turned the ball over nine times.

Other than the sluggish start, Nurse was quite upset with the officiating. The Raptors did not go to the line in the first quarter and Nurse certainly thought a few calls should have gone Toronto's way.

"It's one of those games where you think that there's some 50/50 situations that you're not getting your 50 percent of," Nurse said. "It's tough when you're out there playing hard in the start of the game and that's kind of what happens at the beginning and then your shots don't go either, so the ball is not bouncing your way, you're not executing well enough, not getting the break either."

The 6-foot Kyle Lowry appeared to struggle early against the 6-foot-8 Jayson Tatum who started the game defending Lowry. He couldn't seem to shake Tatum, taking just two shots in the first quarter before finding a little bit of room off the drive in the second quarter.

The Celtics seemed content to let Marc Gasol shoot, helping off of him to allow Boston's Daniel Theis to roam around making life difficult on the rest of the Raptors. Gasol couldn't take advantage, making just one bucket in the first half.

Coming into the game, the primary in-game storyline revolved around Pascal Siakam and Jayson Tatum, the two teams respective breakout stars. Tatum looked stellar, scoring 18 points and pulling down seven rebounds, while Siakam struggled, finishing with just 11 points on 5-for-15 shooting.

"I think Pascal had a lot of really good opportunities," Nurse said. "It wasn't like he wasn't getting his chances and he had some really wide open looks, and even had some good drives that I thought he was patient and composed and got good shots up. Some nights they just don't go in. And then for the rest of it, nobody else was picking up the slack, right? These guys had some good opportunities too, and just wouldn't go down for us there for awhile."

Toronto did spark a brief run early in the third quarter, cutting the Celtics lead to just 10 after a Fred VanVleet scoop and score with just over ten minutes to go in the quarter.

But Boston responded with a 23-3 to end the quarter.

Adding insult to injury, Serge Ibaka was forced to exit the game after getting hit in the face by a driving Gordon Hayward with 9:29 to go in the game. He immediately walked to the locker room and did not return. 

The Raptors finished the game shooting 42.7% from the field and just 10 of 38 from 3-point range. VanVleet finished the game with a team-high 13 points.

Toronto will look to regroup with another chance to clinch the Eastern Conference's second seed when the Raptors take on the Memphis Grizzlies at 2 p.m. on Sunday.