With Andrea Bargnani sitting out due to a calf injury, the Toronto Raptors looked more like D-Leaguers than a bonafide NBA team Wednesday night at the TD Garden.
The Celtics outclassed the Raptors in every facet of the game, encountering very little resistance as they marched to a 100-64 victory which put Boston above .500 for the first time since January 4th.
Paul Pierce once again took hold of the offense in Rajon Rondo’s absence (Rondo is expected to return Friday), registering eight assists and six rebounds to go along with 17 points. Pierce canned four of the Celtics 12 three-pointers, which tied the team’s season-high for made three-pointers.
Boston shot just as well from inside the arc, establishing a 22-point halftime lead after shooting 62% from the field. With the exception of Chris Wilcox (who hauled in five rebounds), each Celtic player scored at least one basket. Boston assisted on 30 of its 39 field goals, while committing just 10 turnovers.
Holding a 28-point lead entering the fourth quarter, Doc Rivers elected to rest the Big Three and give extended minutes to the bench players. Rookie JaJuan Johnson took advantage of his opportunity, making all five of his shots for 10 points in 10 minutes.
Johnson has a feathery touch from both the post and out to 15-feet, but he lacks the strength to compete on the defensive end. If Johnson can fill out and develop his lower-body strength, he’ll have no trouble cracking the rotation down the road. After all, he was the Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year last season.
Considering the starters played fewer minutes than they are accustomed to, and the Celtics have an off-day on Thursday before hosting the reeling New York Knicks on Friday, Boston seems to be in a good position to avenge their loss in the season-opener. The Knicks have lost nine of their last 11 games, and will be playing the second night of a back-to-back after they host Chicago on Thursday night.