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Fast Break: C’s shooting runs cold in Toronto

04.13.12 at 9:44 pm ET
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The Celtics are a much different team since their last loss to Toronto in early February. But no matter how much things change, sometimes, they stay the same. In an ugly affair Friday night, the Raptors defeated the Celtics, 84-79.

The C’s trailed by 10 with just over two minutes left in the game, but pulled within one, 78-77, with 20.5 seconds left in the game. Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo helped spearhead the effort, shooting a combined 7-of-9 from the field in the final frame, but it was all for not. The Raptors hit their free throws, and Pierce missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the game in the waning moments.

The Celtics shot 37.5 percent from the field. The Raptors didn’t fare much better at 34.7 percent, but Toronto out-rebounded Boston, 50-37. For the Raptors, DeMar DeRozan scored 22 points. Pierce scored 18 points, but only shot 6-of-15 from the field.  Rondo’s 12 assists keeps his consecutive games with at least 10 assists alive at 20 games.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Killing Time: For a good portion of the second quarter Doc Rivers trotted out a lineup of Greg Stiemsma, Keyon Dooling, Mickael Pietrus, Sasha Pavlovic, and Ryan Hollinsand they extended the lead to as many as 13. This kept the starting five’s minutes down early, which is critical, considering this is the first game of a back-to-back-to-back this weekend.

Killer B’s: Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley don’t get the publicity that the Big Four do, but the two are just as critical if the C’s have any dreams of a deep playoff run. In what was a terrible 24 minutes of offensive basketball, the duo combined to score 17 points (8-of-13 shooting), nearly half the Celtics entire output (36 points).

WHAT WENT WRONG

Star Power?: Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Rondo were a combined 6-of-25 shooting with 16 points through three quarters. Without Ray Allen, Boston needed more production from their stars. Rondo, who dished out nine assists through 36 minutes, missed all four of his shot attempts. 

Killer Instinct: The crowd in the Air Canada Center was silent, the Raptors looked disinterested, and the B-squad had built the Celtic lead to 13. Yet, inexplicably, Boston began settling for jumpers and the Raptors chipped away at the double digit lead, dwindling it to six at halftime, 36-30, despite shooting 21 percent from the field.

Where was the knockout blow? Things only got worse at the start of the third quarter. Toronto’s confidence grew and a 30-10 run opened up a nine point lead for the Raptors. Point is, the Celtics could have made life much easier by putting the 20-win Raptors away when they had the chance.

Dry Paint: If the Celtics win in Miami was a great illustration of living off the jump shot, Friday served as an example of dying by it. The Raptors were able to get back in the game by attacking the basket. DeRozan was the game’s leading scorer midway through the third quarter with 15 points — he was only shooting 3-of-11 from the field at the time — but was 9-of-9 from the free throw line. The Raptors were winning the free throw battle 20-10 at this juncture of the game, which was a big reason why they outscored the Celtics in the third quarter, 27-11.

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