Raptors eying rebound against Celtics

Toronto hopes to find footing following opening-night loss

Toronto Raptors coaching staff in need of a better game plan against the Boston Celtics.  Toronto Raptors

The new-look Toronto Raptors will try to get in the win column Friday night against the Boston Celtics, following their disappointing opener to the 2021-22 campaign.

The Raptors were beaten decisively in Wednesday night’s contest against the Washington Wizards, losing 98-83 in their first game at Scotiabank Arena in over 600 days.

With so many fresh faces, the Raptors used the opener as an opportunity to test different lineups as point guard Fred VanVleet explained to media after the game.

“At this point we’re trying things, a lot of things, and none of it worked tonight,” said VanVleet to Sportsnet’s Michael Grange. “We’ll go to the drawing board tomorrow, try to come up with something that’ll work for us in Boston.”  

What wasn’t working was the Raptors’ offensive efficiency.

Toronto shot 31 per cent from the field against Washington. For some perspective they shot 45 per cent last year.  

Head Coach Nick Nurse told Grange part of that inefficiency was due to the new group’s unfamiliarity with each other.   

“I think it’s probably my biggest concern, we talked about it, there were some groups that just didn’t look like they fit very well,” said Nurse, following the loss. “I’m going to have to tinker around with that and keep trying to figure out who does fit together.”

One of the bright spots in Wednesday’s loss was rookie Dalano Banton, who hit a half-court buzzer beater to end the third quarter.

https://twitter.com/Raptors/status/1450998506618068992?s=20

The Rexdale native finished with seven points in 12 minutes, posting a team-high plus eight.

Toronto could not seem to figure out the Celtics in last year’s regular season, dropping all three contests against their division rivals.

Boston also opened its season Wednesday night when they travelled to New York to take on the Knicks. The two teams played an extra 10 minutes, going into double overtime, with the Knicks prevailing 138-134.

The Raptors will lean on their defence going into TD Garden, utilizing their length and versatility to stifle the Celtics’ offence and create turnovers to take some of the pressure off their half-court offence.  

One of the Raptors’ new faces is veteran guard Goran Dragic, who told media at Thursday’s practice that after Wednesday, there is nowhere to go but up.

“Next opponent is Boston, first game away, so it’s going to be a really tough challenge for us,” said Dragic. “But look at it this way: we couldn’t play worse last game than we did, so it’s only going to get better.”

Friday’s contest tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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Posted: Oct 21 2021 10:08 pm
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