By: Josh Weinstein
Our next Hoop Talks live event is under one week away! Be sure to purchase tickets to attend here. Look forward to seeing you at The Rivoli on Thursday, November 16, 2017.
Entering this afternoon’s game against the Boston Celtics, the Toronto Raptors had a chance to do something they’d never done: end a win streak of 10 or more games. Boy, were they close to pulling that off at TD Garden. Unfortunately for them, though, the Kyrie Irving-less Celtics (12-2) narrowly squeaked by the Raptors (7-5) in a 95-94 thriller to earn their 12th straight win.
After showing signs of heating up in his past two outings, Kyle Lowry got off to a sizzling start for Toronto, scoring 11 of the team’s 24 points in the opening quarter. With 14 points at halftime, it looked as though Lowry would finally score 20 points or more for the first time this season, yet for some inexplicable reason, he disappeared in the second half. It was odd to say the least, considering Lowry shot the ball effectively (3/5 from distance) in the first 24 minutes. He’d end up finishing the game with 19 points and 7 assists. Assertive Lowry is the best type of Lowry. He needs to have his bulldog mindset engaged for a full 48 minutes, not just show glimpses of it in spurts.
From the opening tip, Boston controlled the pace of play, forcing Toronto into half-court sets for most of the game. As a result, the Raptors struggled to move the ball like we’ve seen early on this season and finished with only 18 assists.
Norman Powell left the game in the first quarter and did not return, after suffering a right hip pointer. According to the Toronto Sun's Mike Ganter, Powell left the arena on crutches. Yikes.
Powell’s absence allowed OG Anunoby and C.J. Miles to get more playing time. Both had solid outings, but of the two, Anunoby stood out most. He played exceptional defence yet again and got some playing time with the starting unit, which reinforces how much Casey’s trust in him continues to grow. He even threw in a few flashy dunks to show off his athleticism. The rookie’s play has been one of the biggest bright spots for this team through 12 games. It’s hard to believe he’s still recovering from an ACL tear and isn’t yet 100 percent physically.
With less than a minute to go in the fourth with Toronto down by a point, DeMar DeRozan’s potential game-winner rimmed out. Jayson Tatum secured the board, but as he made his way up the court he appeared to elbow Fred VanVleet, which ended up giving the Raptors another chance with 13 seconds remaining. Once again, DeRozan went one-on-one, and once again, DeRozan’s shot rimmed out.
The Raptors need to stop reverting to isolation ball when the game is on the line and they need a bucket most. That style of play has burned them countless times. Hopefully for their sake, they realize improving late-game execution should be one of their biggest concerns as the season progresses.
DeRozan had a team-high 24 points for Toronto. Al Horford was Boston's leading scorer with 21 points, while Jaylen Brown chipped in 18 of his own. The Celtics have a chance to extend their winning streak to 13 games when they face the Brooklyn Nets on November 14.
The Raptors are also back in action on November 14 when they take on James Harden and the Houston Rockets.