The Boston Celtics are arguably the best team in the East, at least until Miami or Orlando beats them in a seven game series. Tonight the Raptors hung with the best and had many opportunities to pull away, but suffered from a very poor shooting night. This is the kind of loss you have to take with a grain of salt. The Celtics are the best team in the East, the Raptors are a young team still finding an identity. There is no shame in this loss. The Raps fought hard all game long and should hold their heads high.
Paul Pierce was absolutely brilliant and the Celtics hung around long enough for their other star players to warm up and contribute to the victory. Pierce was basically a one man show for much of the game and seemed to single-handedly keep his team in the game. The hotter Paul Pierce gets the better the Celtics will be. Going into the second half of the season the Celtics are gonna need Pierce to be at his best. Like a fine European wine, he only gets better as time goes on.
His dunk in the second half over virtually everyone was absolutely awe-inspiring!
Not to be outdone Demar Derozan once again was the best Raptor on the floor and may be turning a corner in his development. He looked confident and was aggressive on the offensive end of the floor. The Raptors are banking on Derozan becoming a big part of the team’s future and lately he has been looking like the real deal. Tonight he played great ball against some of the best in the game.
Zan For Three
Hard Work Rewarded
Two players worked harder than anyone else out there today: Joey Dorsey and Ray Allen.
Joey Dorsey was matched up against Shaquille Oneal and Jermaine Oneal, arguably one of the most frightening assignments in the NBA, in my honest opinion. He was solid defensively, worked his ass off on the offensive glass and was a key contributor all game long. The Raps are down a few guys and have never been an overly effective team when it comes to rebounding, but Dorsey is doing it all in the limited amount of time he’s been given. A few more games like this and Dorsey may earn himself more playing time, even after others come back from injury.
Ray Allen is a timeless wonder. His outside shot is an automatic if he’s open. He’s become, arguably, one of the most dependable players in the league. He is never going to go out there and stink up the joint. Today he had the quietest 23 points I’ve ever seen. His team was struggling, outside of Paul Pierce, and they needed someone else to start hitting shots. Enter Mr. Dependable.
Paul Pierce was the best player on the court today for the Celtics, but no way they win without the contribution of their silent leader.
Young Onez Unite!!
Am I the only one who is starting to get a little excited about the future of this ball club? True, there is no Lebron James type or a John Wall that you can hope becomes an NBA superstar, but these kids are really starting to mature into fine NBA players.
Demar Derozan has elevate his game to another level recently and looks like he may finally explode into the player many hoped he was going to be. Ed Davis is looking like a bona fide gem and Amir Johnson has played with increasing maturity. If Amir stays on the floor, he has a good game almost every time.
This season has certainly had its bleak moments, but there is definitely something to be hopeful about as the new year arrives.
Gotta Cash in Those Freebies
I’ll be the first to admit the Raptors did not get the benefit of the doubt on a lot of calls in the paint. Derozan and Calderon got hammered several times without a whistle, but would the Raptors have done much with their extra chances even if they had them? 10/22 from the Free Throw line isn’t going to cut it. That’s twelve free points you’re not cashing in. When you lose a game like the raps did today, you can look at that stat alone and see how close the game
really could have been. The Raptors have got to be more consistent from the stripe.
Zan of the Night
In truth Paul Pierce played a damn fine game, but Derozan gets the Zan for putting together another gem. This kid is playing aggressively out there. He is taking the ball to the rim whether he’s gonna get hammered or not. He is getting to the line and he seems more and more comfortable shooting the ball. When he drives the net he opens up opportunities for the rest of his team. Derozan followed up a gem against Houston with another gem against one of the toughest opponents in the NBA. This kid may have finally arrived.
Not Zan of the Night
True fact: Nobody on the Raptors team was hitting shots with consistency. Barbosa, Calderon and even Amir Johnson all had bad shooting nights, but no one made it look as ugly as Kleiza did. He threw up some of the worst shots I have seen in a long time. I like that he has confidence in his abilities, but you also have to be aware of when it just isn’t your night. He was downright awful on the offensive end tonight.
Kristoffer Pedlar The Zan Tabak Herald *** Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @Zantabakherald