Talk about a bounce-back performance!
The Toronto Raptors quickly erased a disappointing season opener to respond in emphatic fashion with a blowout win over the Boston Celtics.
The Raptors silenced the TD Garden crowd on Friday night, outscoring the Celtics 64-36 in the second half to run away with the 115-83 win.
Here are some thoughts as the Raptors improve to 1-1 on the season.
Scottie Barnes dominates
Watching this game, it was impossible to believe it was the second game of Scottie Barnes' career. The Raptors' top draft selection impressed in the preseason but this performance was borderline dominant.
Barnes stuff the box score to finish with 25 points, 13 rebounds and two assists on 11-for-17 shooting from the floor. The 25 points led all players on the court, with the 20-year-old scoring on all three levels throughout the night.
Cherry on top- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 23, 2021
25p - 13r - @ScottBarnes561 pic.twitter.com/utMGZAIzff
It's the passing of Barnes that has dazzled in his early days with the Raptors, and while he only recorded two assists on the night, he did provide one of the game's highlights with this no-look sizzling dime to Boucher under the basket.
SCOTTIE'S IN HIS BAG pic.twitter.com/bZOZt1gx2c- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 23, 2021
It's no wonder he has quickly become a fan favourite.
Jaylen Brown struggles
We'll have more on the Raptors defensive impact a little later but it is worth noting Jaylen Brown's struggles.
Coming off a massive night at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, Brown struggled to score just nine points on 3-for-13 shooting.
Perhaps fatigue took hold for Brown, as he finished 0-for-7 from deep as OG Anunoby and Barnes spent time on him throughout the game.
Nick Nurse tweaks starting lineup
On opening night the Raptors went with the starting backcourt of Fred VanVleet and Goran Dragic.
That experiment lasted only one night, with Gary Trent Jr. slotting into the starting group for the game in Boston.
Tween, in an out burger, kick, SPLIKAK @FredVanVleet @famouslos32 pic.twitter.com/CuiCL2XbDz- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 23, 2021
Trent Jr. responded, finishing with 20 points on a 7-for-13 shooting.
Playing in his second season with the Raptors, Trent Jr. saw a significant bump in scoring and efficiency when he was used as a starter last season. With Pascal Siakam still sidelined, the Raptors can benefit from the bump in scoring he can provide.
Taking care of the ball
After slipping behind 20-12 in the opening quarter the Raptors went to work.
It wasn't always easy sledding for Toronto on offence, but they had their most success by opening up the transition came through forcing turnovers.
The hallmark of this team is going to be their versatility defensively and the turnover count was looking very pretty if you're a Raptors fan.
Boston committed 25 turnovers to the Raptors 11. Five seperate Toronto players had multiple steals, led by Trent Jr. with four and VanVleet with three.
Going small and having a ball
Many have wondered if/when Chris Boucher or Khem Birch will enter the starting lineup.
For now, Nurse is sticking with Precious Achiuwa as the nominal five, and for tonight at least it worked a treat.
Big man wanted it 😤 pic.twitter.com/IOsEZTPbSt- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 23, 2021
Achiuwa is feverish on the glass and his aggression in running the floor and finishing with authority has become infectious. Achiuwa recorded a 15-point, 15-rebound double-double on the night.
As mentioned, Dragic moved to the bench for this contest, which is far from an unfamiliar role for the veteran.
He did only play 12 minutes however, tallying five points and an assist.
Svi Mykhailiuk managed 14 minutes off the bench, but it's fair to suggest the blowout nature of the scoreboard may have contributed to this.
No time for rest for the Raptors, as they return home to meet the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night. Toronto will look to pick up their first win at home since the 2019-20 season. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. ET.
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