It doesn’t get any easier for the Toronto Raptors, who return home from a 2-4 road trip Monday night to face the team with the best record in the league — the Boston Celtics.
The Raptors completed their extended trip Friday with a 145-113 loss to the Utah Jazz. Now they are back in Toronto, where Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett will play their second home game since being acquired from the New York Knicks late last month.
The arrival of the new players added some energy to the Raptors, but that was not evident against Utah.
“We did not have that energy,” Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic said. “We have to learn how to close the road trips, how to play those games away from home. It comes down to mental toughness and discipline, you know? Not settling for some of the shots they were — literally — giving us and (instead) taking what we want, getting to the rim much more and finding open people. I thought our offense really slowed us down in the first half and it carried on to our (defense) the whole game.”
The loss to the Jazz dropped the Raptors to 3-4 since their trade.
“For us, we have to continue to learn and fight through adversity,” said Barrett, who had four points on 2-for-9 shooting on Friday. “I played like garbage today, so I’ll take that one on the chin.”
With Jakob Poeltl (ankle) still out, the Raptors struggled with Utah’s size. The Raptors were outscored 58-32 in points in the paint and outrebounded 56-31 in the loss.
The Celtics are coming off a 145-113 home win over the Houston Rockets and their former coach Ime Udoka on Saturday after being blown out 135-102 on the road by the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.
Jaylen Brown scored 32 points in 28 minutes in the win and Jayson Tatum had 27 points before being ejected in the fourth quarter.
“Both of them were relatively efficient tonight,” Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said, “so I think they’re doing a good job of getting to their spots, of understanding the coverage and picking and choosing when to attack.”
“Just in a rhythm,” Tatum said. “You know that you’ve been playing well lately, you’ve been shooting the ball really well lately as an individual and we have as a group, so you just want to stay in that zone for as long as you can.”
“Being aggressive on both sides of the ball,” Brown said. “Getting stops, pushing the pace. Had some shots that I felt good about and I just kept being aggressive. Hit some 3s, but we just kept pushing the pace and Houston felt like they (were) kind of on their heels. Just being aggressive on both ends. That was it.”
Tatum picked up two quick technical fouls for complaining about a non-call when his dunk was blocked. He also believed he had been fouled on a previous play.
“I’m a very self-aware person, I understand time and score, the game was pretty much over and I just had to stand up for myself,” Tatum said. “I said my piece, got ejected, and that was it.”
–Field Level Media
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