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Playing without big men Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, and Jorge Garbajosa, the Raptors were destroyed by the Celtics 112-84 (NBA.com Box Score). The Celtics improved to a perfect 10-0 at home (16-2 overall) while the 2nd place Raptors fell to an NBA-high 7 games behind the Celtics in the Atlantic Division standings.
It was obvious that the Raptors would be affected with the loss of three of their best big men, especially their star forward Chris Bosh. Without them, the Raptors had to rely on Rasho Nesterovic and Maseo Baston to be the big men in the middle. Due to their dearth at the center position, the Raptors used a lot of small, quick lineups because that was the only way they had a chance of beating the Celtics. They had to outshoot them and avoid the paint. It didn’t work too well.
Instead, the Celtics seized the opportunity by exploiting the Raptors’ small lineup and driving to the hoop. I think it was the obvious move by Doc Rivers, but it seemed the C’s really didn’t start driving the lane until the 2nd quarter. By that point, they C’s were mounting a 15-point lead, which has suddenly become so ordinary.
Without any big guys, the Raptors only went to the foul line 12 times and hit 10 of their free throws. Conversely, the Celtics went to the FT line 30 times, hitting 25 of them (83.3%). The C’s got to the line more because they drove the hope a lot more against a small lineup. Nice strategy and it obviously worked.
I still can’t believe the team is this good. 16-2? Wow. Remember, to beat Michael Jordan’s Bulls and go 73-9 for the season, the Celtics need to 57-7 the rest of the way. That just goes to show how good Jordan, Pippen, and the rest of them really were.