Raptors Fall in Boston

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Raptors Fall in Boston

Kyrie Irving Dominates Late in Statement Game as Celtics Beat Raptors

On an ugly three game losing streak and facing increased team chemistry issues, the Celtics, and Kyrie Irving in particular, came to play against the 1stplace Raptors in what many believe could be a preview of the Eastern Conference finals.

The Raptors had an up-and-down game. The starters, for the most part, were great. Namely, Kawhi Leonard led the way 33 points on just 19 shots and Serge Ibaka contributed 22 points and 10 rebounds. The bench play, however, was an issue again as the Celtics outscored the Raptors 34-17 in the second quarter.

Toronto fought back and actually took the lead with 4:22 left in the fourth quarter, before Kyrie Irving took over. He eviscerated the Raptors, making dynamic plays himself and for teammates as the Celtics closed the game on a 17-4 run, securing a 117-108 win over Toronto. The Raptors fall to 33-13 with the loss and a half game back of Milwaukee for tops in the East, while Boston improves to 26-18.

Late game execution issues were a problem for Toronto, who failed to score on five of their last six meaningful possessions. “Obviously the last three minutes of the game got away from us – and I think almost blame more of it on the offence,” said coach Nick Nurse. “We had a really good rhythm and momentum there for a long stretch offensively then we kind of took a couple of quick shots and didn’t execute a couple of things exactly right, out of a timeout one time and you can’t do that.”

Another concern was Kyle Lowry’s poor shooting performance. He finished the match with 10 points on 3-10 and struggled to make his presence felt down the stretch. “A lot of times we kind of give Kawhi the ball and get out of the way,” said Lowry. “He’s really good and can do it but we’ve gotta give him some help.”

Another concern was Kyle Lowry’s poor shooting performance. He finished the match with 10 points on 3-10 and struggled to make his presence felt down the stretch. “A lot of times we kind of give Kawhi the ball and get out of the way,” said Lowry. “He’s really good and can do it but we’ve gotta give him some help.”

This was an important test for the Raptors against a team who they could potentially be seeing a lot more of later in the season and beyond. Toronto holds a six game lead over the Celtics in the Eastern Conference standings; however, Boston holds a 2-1 head-to-head edge with the final game scheduled for February 26thin Toronto.

The Raptors will look to bounce back Thursday evening as they host the Phoenix Suns, who are in the middle of a four-game road trip and should be buoyed by the return of Devin Booker.

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