The Toronto Raptors returned home from their 6-game road trip on Sunday to face the Boston Celtics. With 3 of Toronto’s starters out due to injury, Boston took care of business with a 109-97 win.
Marcus Smart led the Celtics with 21 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. 4 of the teams starters finished with double digits in a balanced offensive display. Despite going 2 for 16 on the night, Jayson Tatum had a team-high 10 assists and added 7 rebounds in 37 minutes.
Josh Richardson stepped up with 18 points in 27 minutes; the Celtic bench outscored the Raptors 32-13. In 9 games at home, Toronto’s second unit has averaged less than 10 points per game, resulting in 7 losses.
Fred VanVleet led all players with 27 points on 8 of 16 shooting. He shot 50% from beyond the arc, and continues to lead the team by example. Svi Mykhailiuk started in place of an injured Gary Trent Jr.; he put up 12 points and 8 rebounds in 37 minutes. Pascal Siakam added 18 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. He’s averaged 17.7 points in 9 games since his return from shoulder surgery.
It has been a struggle at home. Despite Sunday’s loss, Nick Nurse was pleased with his team’s effort. They continue to build on the foundation that’s been a pillar to Toronto’s success: defense. The team forced 17 turnovers, along with 6 steals and 5 blocks. It’s tough to expect a new team to come home and pick up where they left off in 2018-2019. But that’s exactly what some Raptors fans expect.
Since the 2012 season, Toronto has owned a winning record at Scotiabank Arena. From 2015 to 2018, they have been dominant on home court. But a lot has changed since then. The team played a year and a half away. They came home with 9 new players – 4 of whom are playing in their first year in the NBA.
Before the season started Masai Ujiri expected “growing pains”, as the team develops back into contention. Unlike his Championship-or-Bust mindset 3 years ago, he has been clear that this is not a team that’s winning “now”. This season is about development. The groundwork is there and the hope is to be a contender again, soon. Remember, anything worth building always takes time.
Note: OG Anunoby has missed Toronto’s last 6 games. In 15 games he has averaged 20 points and 5 rebounds. The team is 2-4 in those games.
NEXT: Toronto faces Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies. Tip off is 7:30 at Scotiabank Arena.