Well I saw it live and in person and it was not pretty. The Raptors did at least get off to a decent start which has plagued them most of the season. But in the second quarter this game would slip away and like a snow ball heading down hill the Hawks lead would grow bigger and bigger. Josh Smith was the guy that did all the damage last time, this time it was Joe Johnson. He racked up 30 in 3 quarters including 8 points in 51 seconds to close out the 1st half. The Raptors stuck to the small starting line-up to begin this game and it was not productive. Just 40 points in all for the starters led by Bayless with 14 points. Demar DeRozan after a season high 27 had just 9. DeRozan has now not reached double figures in scoring in 3 of the last 5 games. Hawks won it big 100-77.
A few other thoughts on the night. Prior to the game had a chance to catch up with James Johnson, it was a interesting chat look for it in the DNB tomorrow. In a game of few positive Ed Davis finally got some minutes and took advantage of them going for a double double of 11 points and 11 rebounds. Last but not least Toronto still hates T-Mac or at least boos him. I personally get a kick out of it. However so does T-Mac who more than any player that has level gets is roll as the "Bad Guy" and embraces it. T-Mac fuelled by boos got 15 off the bench for the Hawks. While many will be critical of fans for still booing him. I am not one of them. I think it is fans right to do as they choose. It might not be the wisest idea against McGrady but I understand why some would never want to forgive him and always boo him.
Raptor spent about 36 hours back in Toronto and they are back on the road off to Boston to take on the Celtics. Another team that has never been a kind opposition to Raptors. The Celtics have been much improved since snapping a 5 game losing streak against the Raptors in Boston the last time the Raptors paid a visit. Boston played last night as well in Cleveland and had to hold off a furious Cavs run in the 4th to hang on for a 93-90 win and are back to .500 on the season at 10-10. Boston is 5-2 since crushing the Raptors by 23 back on January 18th.
Rajon Rondo played outstanding in that game before getting injured by Linas Kleiza with a hard foul late in the 3rd. He has not played since for the Celtics. So could we see a really chippy game tonight between the Raptors and Celtics? It would not surprise anyone if we did. Avery Bradley the Texas product has been playing in his spot but is no Rondo.
Still despite not having Rondo the Celtics have taken advantage of a soft portion of their schedule and been able to fight back from an awful start to the season. Paul Pierce has been playing well of late. Since that game vs the Raptors in which he only scored 8 points he has averaged 22.1 points per game including a season high 34 vs the Wizards.
So let's get the 3 keys for this one:
Be Aggressive: The Celtics are not a team that forgets much. The fact Linas Kleiza took out Rajon Rondo will not be something that they will. Expect a lot of chatter and a lot of heavy blows in this one. If there was one positive in the blow out loss to Celtics for the first time in a long time the Raptors were pushing back in physical stuff with the Celtics.
Pierce and Allen: Both have had big shooting games vs the Raptors in the past. Be aware of where they are and do not allow them open looks at 3's or it could be a long night for the Raptors. There is no reason to believe Pierce or Allen are not capable of doing the same thing Joe Johnson did last night if the Raptors do not do a much better job defending them.
Attack Attack Attack: Take advantage of the Celtics perhaps wanting to be the bully by attacking the basket. Demar DeRozan would be the man you would look to in leading this charge. If the Raptors can get to the line and get easy points, it will help them stay competitive on the scoreboard. It is not a secret the Celtics have the potential to produce a lot more offence compared to the Raptors. No offence to Gary Forbes, but if he is your leading scorer again tonight, as he was in the last game vs Boston with a season high 19 points for him, the Raptors have some problems.