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In a high-scoring, competitive game, the Celtics came up short on the defensive side of the ball in a 114-112 loss to the Toronto Raptors. Toronto shot an astounding 15-21 from 3-point range and 19-19 (100%!!!) from the FT line. They needed every shot they got in winning by 2 points.
Jose Calderon led the Raptors with 24 points on 8-10 shooting (3-4 from 3-pt land), 13 assists, and 3 steals. If Jose Calderon has that type of game, it’s gonna be pretty hard to win. As a team, Toronto shot 58%, so everyone was making shots. They had five players in double figures, and four of those with 20 points or more. How could the Celtics allow them to keep up the hot shooting?
Well, for the most part, the Celtics were playing loose on the perimeter. Most of the 21 3-pointers attempted by the Raptors were largely uncontested shots. It seemed as if for some of the game, the Celtics were in a zone defense, which would be good against a poor shooting team that likes to put the ball in the paint. Chris Bosh is Toronto’s only significant post presence. So why the Zone D?
That’s what I’m not sure about. I felt the C’s never attempted to fix their defense. They knew the Raptors weren’t going to drive, so why allow the NBA’s best 3-point-shooting team to keep shooting? Perhaps they felt Toronto would miss. But they just didn’t. Any points in the paint they did get was usually accompanied with a foul shot, which in case you didn’t notice they made all of them.
Toronto just played a perfect offensive game. Every single time they needed a big shot they got it, and usually without trouble. They seemed to be setting a lot of successful screens. For the short time Kendrick Perkins was guarding Andrea Bargnani, he looked lost on the perimeter. He has no business defending out there, but that’s what you get when there’s a 7-footer shooting 3’s: match-up problems.
So, in all, Toronto had to shoot 58% from the field, 71.4% from deep, and a perfect 19-19 from the line to squeak out a 2-point victory. Let’s focus on how they got that 2-point victory.
Ray Allen hit a big shot to put the C’s up by 1 with 14 seconds remaining. Toronto inbounded the ball after a timeout on the next posession. Doc Rivers quickly called a timeout to put in Rajon Rondo and take out Glen “Big Baby” Davis. Rondo was covering Calderon. Calderon took the ball off the inbound, made a move at the top of the key and drove to the basket and got fouled with 10 seconds remaining. Of course his shot went in along with his free throw, and the Raptors were up by 2.
Celtics now have the ball after the timeout, and sub in Perk for Tony Allen and Eddie House in for Rondo. Doc drew up a play that had Eddie House, not Pierce, Garnett, or Ray Allen, taking the final shot to tie it or win it. House missed his jump shot with 2 seconds remaining, and Ray Allen collected the offensive rebound. He missed his fadeway attempt as the buzzer sounded and the Celtics somehow lost a game they easily could’ve won.
This is the first time all season that I’ve questioned Doc and his staff. How can you not adjust to the wide-open looks? It was obvious they were just gonna keep shooting. We should’ve attempted to jam them at the perimeter. Make them drive to where Perk and KG are. Also, how do you have Eddie House take that final shot? With three superstars, that’s enough for the Raptors to try and defend. Give it to Pierce and have him drive in, and turn around and dish it to Allen for the win. Something else besides Eddie House (who yes, is a good shooter, but still).
The C’s wrap up the first half of the season this Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, which should be a very interesting game.