A lot went wrong for the Celtics on Saturday.
They didn’t shoot well. Their transition defense was subpar. And although they got to the line a lot, the Celtics only made 28 of their 36 free throw attempts (77.8%).
But Boston had one problem in the 113-97 loss to Toronto which was more significant than the rest. (For a complete recap of the Celtics' loss, click here.)
“I don’t think tonight is as much about us. (The Raptors) came in here and set the tone for how the game was going to be played,” Brad Stevens said. “Played with great energy. They looked like people that were the last team standing last year, just, they played with great make-up today.”
The fact Stevens felt it was more about the Raptors should sound off alarms for the Celtics. Because that also says a lot about Boston.
It’s one thing for an opponent to outplay the Celtics, but they can’t allow other teams to set the tone. Title-contending teams don’t let that happen.
Especially when they’re facing teams like the Raptors, who — similar to the Sixers and Bucks – can outplay the Celtics on any given night, when healthy. Boston has to take charge against teams with equal or superior talent. Otherwise, they’re going to find themselves playing catch-up often — and at the most important time of the year.
“Toronto just raised their level of intensity,” Jaylen Brown said. “We weren’t ready to handle it. We got to adapt quicker and we got to be more physical with the basketball. Starting with me.
“So much credit to those guys and the way they played and came out from the very beginning of the game,” he said. “They wanted it more, man. You could tell. They deserved that win, no question.”