BOSTON — The Raptors left their lead feet in Charlotte, but the search party for any defensive cohesion remains on high alert.
It wasn’t the 35-point spanking they endured against the Bobcats on Wednesday night, but Friday night’s 116-103 loss to the Celtics was another clear indication that, defensively, the Raptors do not possess the personnel to stay with a decent team in this league for a full 48 minutes.
At least they haven’t shown that to date.
Purely on their shooting ability, the Raps stayed with the Celtics for about the first 27 minutes of Friday night’s game before the Celtics themselves decided to play a little defence. At that point, those Raptors shots that had been falling with regularity became off-balance jumpers that couldn’t find the mark.
But where the Celtics were able to turn up their defensive intensity, the Raptors could not match at their end of the floor and the Celtic scoring derby continued unabated.
Rajon Rondo, the Celtics point guard probably said it best when he noted it was the type of game where the first team to get stops was going to win.
Toronto actually had a one-point lead at the half thanks to a second quarter that saw them shoot 71%.
They opened the third scoring six of the first nine points and then went stone cold, shooting just 35% in the third quarter as the Celtics went on a 13-0 run to put the game away.
“They took us out of what we normally do,” Chris Bosh said of the third quarter turnaround. “We were getting to the second side. We were playing aggressively, we were getting position and setting screens.
“They turned up their physicality and we backed down.”
But Bosh wasn’t done there.
Asked about the Celtics 68 points in the paint, six shy of the season high set two nights earlier in Charlotte, Bosh questioned his team’s collective will.
“That’s just effort,” he said. “Pretty much every night they are just getting into the paint at will and we can’t have that. We just have to help each other out, close that paint off.
“You have to challenge a team to make all jump shots. That’s what we talk about and we have to stick to that game plan, or rather not stick to it but just do it first and then maybe it will work.”
Triano said the Raptors problems in the paint Friday were more a matter of timing than effort.
“We played them after they caught the ball instead of before they caught the ball,” he said. “And their starting bigs didn’t miss a shot.
“Both guys (Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett) were perfect and we tried to come and double team, and they found another guy.”
Ray Allen, who normally kills the Raptors, wound up with a Celtic-high 20 points while Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu led the Raps with the same 20.