If you doubted Boston’s depth before tonight, no more need for doubt.
The Celtics started two guys who were supposed to be at the very end of the bench, but were still superior to the Toronto Raptors, snapping the Raptors’ 5-game winning streak with a 103-96 win.
The Raptors porous defense was no match even for the undermanned Celtics, as Boston shot 51.4% and accumulated 26 assists. Even without three of their stars (yup, Rondo is a star now in my eyes), the Celtics were undaunted as they took it to Toronto basically the entire night.
From the opening tip, the Celtics were the better team, with a brief run at the end of the first quarter and another in the early fourth the only times the Raptors seemed like they had a chance.
Towards the end of the game, the Raptors made a spirited charge to come back, but couldn’t ever get the stop they needed to really get themselves back into the game. They’d get the lead down to five or six, then give up a bucket to keep them at arm’s length. Believe me; comebacks are infinitely tougher when you can’t get a single stop.
In the first half, the Celtics were led by Rasheed Wallace, who scored 12 points and snatched 5 rebounds while providing a solid defensive effort. (And, for good measure, he picked up a technical foul.) He didn’t score another point until a bank shot with five minutes left on the game clock, but he didn’t need to; the C’s balance was good enough to carry them into the fourth quarter.
Once the Raptors started to come back, though, the Celtics again leaned on Rasheed to take them in. He responded with the aforementioned bank shot, then a spin move around Bargnani for a surprisingly explosive dunk.
Ray Allen hit a couple more jumpers, and Tony Allen hit a tough lay-in over — and through — Chris Bosh to keep the Toronto Raptors at bay.
Allen (Tony, that is) was very solid the entire night long, finishing with 14 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds and — by my count at least — only one play that made me scratch my head and think, “WHYYY???”
I wasn’t expecting such a thoroughly well-played game, but the Celtics were up to the task.