The Boston Celtics got off to a great start, taking a 10-4 lead within the first five minutes, before the visiting Toronto Raptors backcourt duo, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry assisted each other for consecutive three pointers to make it even, 10-10. The two teams struggled to make plays all through the first quarter, but eventually pushed the score to 26-26.
Tension rises in the second quarter
In the middle of the second quarter, the game got a little more physical with several fouls within short time, which led to some arguing by the players. The referees handed out a couple of quick technicals to Toronto's Cory Joseph and Boston's Jae Crowder, but the tension remained for the rest of the quarter.
The Raptors were first to regain control and took a five-point lead, but the Celtics answered with a small run, and the game remained a two-possession game until the break. After a couple of lead changes the half ended in a tie, 54-54. The teams were also tied on fouls with 16 each.
Both teams had problems scoring inside the perimeter in the first half, but were excellent beyond the arc, both hitting nearly 42 percent of their three-point shots.
Raptors take control of the game
From the beginning of the second half, the Toronto starters looked more focused on both ends, and within the first five minutes, they jumped out for their, until then, largest lead at 69-62. But after a Celtics timeout, Toronto center Jonas Valanciunas got his fourth foul and had to sit down. His replacement, Bismack Biyombo, also got his fourth foul within short time after the substitution.
This, however, didn't help a Boston offense that committed a higher number of turnovers tonight than usual, ending at 17.
Whether it was sloppy play that led to a bad shot selection, or the other way around, the Celtics had a hard time getting buckets in the third quarter. They were down by as many as 14 points, but ended the quarter behind, 84-75.
In the fourth quarter, the Raptors' Terence Ross showed that when he gets hot, he can be close to unstoppable. No matter who the Celtics threw at him, he seemed to find just enough space to get his shot off. His first six points of the quarter extended Toronto's lead to 90-77, and from there, they never looked back.
Boston starters lack scoring
And while the Celtics in the Brad Stevens era have proven over and over again that they are a resilient team, tonight they looked overmatched in the second half, partly due to Toronto picking up the slack, and partly due to their own lack of scoring power.
Per usual the Celtics bench (61 points) outscored the opponents (40 points), but the lack of scoring from the Boston starters can become a real problem, no matter how deep the team is. The only two starters scoring in double digits tonight were Tyler Zeller (10 points in 16 minutes, but zero rebounds) and Avery Bradley (13 points).
Boston's Isaiah Thomas led all scorers with 27 points, while Toronto had three players over 20 points: DeRozan (23 points), DeMarre Carroll (21 points) and Ross (21 points, 13 points on six-of-seven shooting in the fourth quarter).
Next up for Boston is a Sunday afternoon game at home against the San Antonio Spurs, before they hit the road for the first time this season. Toronto goes home to play the Milwaukee Bucks, also on Sunday.