Toronto Raptors

Six thoughts as Jayson Tatum's near-triple-double leads Celtics past Raptors

The Toronto Raptors couldn't get back in the win column, dropping their third consecutive game in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

The offence just couldn't get going, failing to crack 90 points in their 104-88 loss. Meanwhile, the Celtics had six different players score in double figures, led by 22 points from Jayson Tatum and 20 points from Dennis Schroder.

Scottie Barnes paced the Raptors with 21 points, seven boards and four assists but Toronto failed to get over the hump despite cutting into Boston's lead several times.

For more thoughts on the game, we have you covered below.

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1. Jayson Tatum overcomes a slow start

Tatum's shooting struggles have been well documented early on in the season, and the start of this game wasn't much different. Before you could seemingly blink, Tatum was already 1-for-8 from the field, but he was impacting the game in other ways, crashing the glass and setting the table for his teammates.

Once the All-Star forward got a few easy buckets by attacking the rim, he really started to get going.

Tatum closed the game shooting 7-for-15 from the field following his slow start, finishing with a well-rounded stat line of 22 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. He was locked in on the defensive end and started to find his groove late, helping the Celtics put the Raptors away.

It was one of his best all-around efforts of the season.

2. Scottie Barnes keeps his strong rookie season rolling

Few (if any) rookies have gotten their seasons out to a better start than Barnes. The No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft continued his high level of play on both ends of the floor in this one, providing a ton of energy for the Raptors, as always.

When the team looked flat at times during the first half, Barnes was there to keep the heartbeat going. It wasn't the loudest performance, but Barnes nearly led the Raptors across the board, finishing with 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

He was a bit outmatched by the size of Boston's frontcourt, but the 20-year-old held his own inside against Al Horford and Robert Williams. It was another test of his defensive versatility, and it will be a learning experience for the first-year player.

3. Pascal Siakam is still feeling things out

In just his second game back from offseason shoulder surgery, it's clear that Siakam is still getting comfortable on the floor. Between trying to get back to game speed and trying to mesh with two other forwards in the frontcourt in Barnes and Anunoby, it may take a few games for Siakam to truly look like himself.

Siakam was far from a minus out there tonight, but he didn't attack much offensively. He still filled up the stat sheet across different categories, but the Raptors could have used more of his offensive scoring punch.

Siakam finished with eight points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals, but he only attempted seven shots.

4. Robert Williams III dominates Raptors' small-ball

With Siakam back, head coach Nick Nurse has rolled out the same starting lineup twice: VanVleet, Trent, Barnes, Anunoby and Siakam. Because of the frontcourt trio's defensive versatility, the Raptors should be able to handle almost any matchup. Tonight, Toronto's small-ball frontcourt met their match.

Williams was unstoppable in this one from the get-go, crashing the offensive glass for easy second-chance points in the first quarter. His presence inside forced Nurse to make substitutions earlier than usual, going to Precious Achiuwa for some size.

The switch didn't matter, as Williams continued to have his way inside. Scoring 16 points while shooting 8-for-11 from the field, the Celtics' athletic center did the majority of his damage on alley-oops and putbacks.

He also finished with 13 rebounds (eight offensive), marking one of Williams' best games of the season.

5. Monitoring bench minutes

Nurse has tested out a number of lineups early on in the season with different players cracking the rotation each night. He went deep into his bench in this one, with 11 different players touching the court for various amounts of time.

Reserve guard Malachi Flynn received some playing time after registering a "DNP - Coach's Decision" in the Raptors' loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday. Reserve center Chris Boucher was still behind Achiuwa in the pecking order, and the Canadian big man didn't see many minutes despite the Raptors' struggles inside.

After being two key pieces to the team's rotation last year, it seems as though Flynn and Boucher have become more matchup-specific options this season, only logging six and seven minutes, respectively.

It's also worth noting for the eighth consecutive game, Nurse did not have Goran Dragic step on the floor.

The Raptors desperately need to find a bench unit that can help the team offensively.

6. What's next?

This contest marked the first of two road games, as the Raptors will travel to Philadelphia to take on the 76ers on Thursday, Nov. 10. Toronto will head home for one game against the Detroit Pistons after that, but follow that with a six-game road trip.

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