By MyFM's Jake Archer - After taking down the Toronto Raptors within the last week, the Celtics traveled up north to see if they could duplicate their performance and draw closer in the Eastern Conference standings. Instead, Boston turned the ball over 17 times and was absolutley shut down on offense in a 96-78 loss.
The C's were getting Terry Rozier back after the point guard missed the last game with an ankle injury, and they are obviously still without other key contributors like Kyrie Irving. On the other side, Toronto has stayed rather healthy and they certainly needed to take care of business and tighten their grip on the first seed for the upcoming postseason.
In the opening quarter, it looked like the Raptors were the team dealing with issues. They made only six of 23 attempts and registered their lowest scoring quarter of the season with just 14 points. However, Boston still only led by six. From there, the Celtics gave the game away. They repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with careless ball security and Toronto was able to get a lot of easy buckets. The C's closed the half having turned the ball over more times than they put the ball in the hoop and trailed by 10.
The third and fourth quarters were really more of the same as the Raptors just extended their lead to 14 after three and obviously won by 18. DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet all scored in double figures for Toronto.
Boston could have used the excuses of being banged up and tired on the second night of a back-to-back on the road, but they didn't. Rozier, who only scored two points, would not say that his ankle was the reason for his poor play. It was the first time in 26 games that the guard failed to score at least 10 points. Marcus Morris, Greg Monroe and Al Horford were the only Celtics to pick up double digit points on a frustrating night that resulted in their lowest point total of the season. It was a combination of a terrible performance from the C's and some very good defense from Toronto.
With the loss, Boston falls three games behind the Raptors for first place in the East and splits the season series. Both teams have four games remaining and are likely locked in to their current positions in the standings. Toronto holds the tiebreaker over Boston anyway, since they have a better record against the East. The Raptors matched a franchise record with their 56th win and needed this victory badly after having lost five of eight. Their physical play showed how they just wanted this game more.
The Celtics now sit at 53-25 and have lost two straight games. They'll look to get back on track starting with a home game against Chicago on Friday night. That is a game against a very bad team and Boston needs to take care of business to avoid falling into a funk before the playoffs. The C's have won five straight home games against the Bulls.