Despite the win, the Raptors played the way they did all of last year, forgetting basketball games require effort in all four quarters in order to have consistent success.
Toronto led by as many as 16 points at one point, before deciding to take the third quarter off, giving up 34 points in the frame, the most points allowed in a quarter by any team in the contest. Thankfully, the Raptors were playing the Celtics, perhaps the NBA team most guilty of “Riggin’ for Wiggins.” Had the competition possessed any aspiration of doing anything besides earning a top lottery pick at the end of the season, it’s likely Toronto would have been embarrassed on their home court to begin the new year.
Looking past the dismal effort in the third quarter, there were some positives to take away from the victory. Jonas Valanciunas and Tyler Hansbrough were strong on the glass, combining to record 23 rebounds. The added strength Valanciunas built over the summer was visible early, while Hansbrough had an instant impact in his Raptors debut. Amir Johnson was also effective in the paint, going 6-for-8 from the floor to finish with 13 points in the win.
Unfortunately, that’s about where the positives end, as Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan looked like they couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat throughout the majority of the game. Toronto’s swingmen combined to shoot 14-for-37 from the field, contributing 32 points in the victory. Given their poor shooting performance against a tanking Celtics squad, if this is a preview of what’s to come from the swingmen, the Raptors could be in significant trouble when they face real competition. Then again, the poor outing by the duo could be chalked up to opening night jitters, however, every analytic expert who believes the swingmen are overpaid are currently screaming, “I told you so!”
Toronto avoided disaster in their first game, but the real challenge now comes in their next five contests. Four of the team’s next five games are on the road, with their only home game being against the defending champion Miami Heat. Given that type of schedule to kick off the season, it shouldn’t take long to figure out how the 2013-14 season will go for the Raptors.
Who knows, maybe by the middle of November the Celtics will have more competition in their quest of “Riggin’ for Wiggins.”