Celtics-Raptors Live: Rudy Gay Leads Toronto to 97-89 Victory in Preseason Opener

Brad StevensFinal, Raptors 97-89: The Celtics began their preseason schedule with a loss on Monday night, falling to the Raptors 97-89 at the TD Garden.

Boston kept the score close throughout the second half, but Toronto pulled away late in the fourth quarter. Rudy Gay led all Raptors starters with 17 points, while Tyler Hansbrough added 17 important points and nine rebounds off the bench.

The Celtics were led by Gerald Wallace, who provided 16 points from the bench. Jared Sullinger had the best all-around performance for Boston with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists.

Overall, it was a good performance from a Celtics team with a lot of new players and a lack of chemistry. New head coach Brad Stevens now has some real game film to look at while he determines which lineups will work best. One weakness that must be improved is rebounding. Toronto dominated Boston with a 46-26 advantage on the boards. Not being able to rebound consistently prevented the Celtics from using their athleticism on the fast break during the second half.

Boston’s next preseason game is on Wednesday against the New York Knicks at TD Garden.

End of fourth quarter, Raptors 97-89 : Humphries drives to the basket and gets fouled. He only converts one of two free throws and the Raptors lead 95-89.

Turnovers have plagued the Celtics in the final minutes of the quarter, which has prevented any sort of real comeback from happening.

Boston is now playing the free-throw game, but Daye hits two from the line and Toronto has an eight point lead with 18 seconds remaining.

Green’s three-point shot that misses from the corner is the last attempt from the Celtics as the buzzer sounds.

Fourth Quarter, 2:25, Raptors 95-87: The Celtics were settling for too many outside shots until Green attacked the rim and scored. That’s the kind of slashing to the basket that Boston needs to see from Green a lot this season.

Crawford is unable to handle a pass and Austin Daye takes the ball and hits a mid-range jumper to give Toronto a 93-87 lead. The Raptors then scored another basket off a turnover to increase their lead to eight.

The Celtics are now resorting to outside shots in an attempt to erase this deficit, but they are 7-for-21 from downtown tonight.

Fourth quarter, 5:50, Raptors 88-84: Courtney Lee hits a three-point shot from the corner and the Celtics have tied the game 84-84.

But as we have seen repeatedly tonight, Boston is unable to take the lead as Toronto scores on its next possession.

A Celtics turnover in the backcourt then leads to a monster dunk from DeRozan, and Toronto leads 88-84.

Fourth quarter, 8:40, Raptors 82-81: Bradley forces a turnover and passes to Keith Bogans for two more fast-break points. As a result, Boston took its first lead in a while at 77-76.

The Raptors took the lead back quickly at 82-77, thanks to a Celtics turnover and some poor shots.

Sullinger has really impressed with his perimeter passing tonight. He has four assists in addition to his 11 points and five rebounds. This is one aspect of his game that has improved over the summer.

Sullinger continues to shine with a great offensive rebound and a basket in the paint despite being defended by three Raptors players. He’s asserting himself in the fourth quarter.

End of third quarter, Raptors 75-73: Wallace hits another three and the Celtics are now 6-for-15 from beyond the arc. He leads all Celtics with 14 points off the bench and could emerge as the team’s go-to scorer before the regular season,

On the next Boston possession, Sullinger picks up a loose ball and scores, plus a foul. He’s been a force in the paint tonight.

With that said, the Raptors have a 44-24 edge in points in the paint right now. They have grabbed 10 offensive rebounds, which has created extra shots and second-chance points.

The key for the Celtics going into the fourth quarter will be to get defensive stops and ignite the fast break. They are more athletic than Toronto, but it’s hard to get out in transition when you’re not getting rebounds consistently.

Third quarter, 2:25. Raptors 71-65: The Raptors have opened up a six-point lead on the Celtics. Toronto has continued its domination on the boards with a 30-12 rebounding advantage.

The Raptors also have a 34-18 scoring advantage in the paint, largely because of Valanciunas’ 10 points.

Sullinger and Tyler Hansbrough have each picked up technical fouls. It appeared as if words were exchanged between the two forwards.

Sullinger has done well in the paint tonight with three offensive rebounds and using his size to create high-percentage shots.

Crawford has just hit his second three-point shot of the game. With Paul Pierce gone, Boston needs someone to step up and become a consistent outside shooter, and Crawford has the range to fulfill this role.

Third quarter, 6:45, Raptors 63-55: Jeff Green has been quiet tonight. He’s attempted only five shots, three of which were three pointers. Green is also spending too much time on the perimeter and not being aggressive and attacking the rim.

Gay has added two more points to his total. He now leads all players with 17 points. On the next Celtics possession, he stole the ball from Green and raced down the court for an easy basket.

Brandon Bass is the only Celtics player with more than one rebound. That must change for Boston to get back into this game against a stronger Raptors team with more size in the frontcourt.

Humphries now shares the Celtics scoring lead with 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting. He’s displaying his effective mid-range shot and is working well in the low post.

End of first half, Raptors 53-48: An entertaining, fast-paced half has come to a close.

Rudy Gay leads the Raptors with 13 points, most of which were scored in the second quarter. He’s a tough matchup for Gerald Wallace because of his ability to penetrate to the basket or shoot from the three-point line.

In addition to Gay, Valanciunas impressed for Toronto. He has six points and a game-high six rebounds.

As a team, the Raptors are shooting a stellar 59.4 percent from the floor, while the Celtics have hit just 39 percent of their shots.

Not only are the Celtics shooting poorly, they also aren’t getting second-chance points. Toronto has a 22-6 advantage on the boards. Boston has to do a better job boxing out and sending more than just one or two guys to the offensive glass.

The bright spot for the Celtics through 24 minutes has been the performance of Bradley. He has a team-high 10 points and his defense forced several of the Raptors’ 15 turnovers. Boston has scored 19 points off of turnovers thus far.

Overall, it was a good half for the Celtics considering this roster underwent huge changes in the summer and the rotations are not set yet. There is an obvious lack of chemistry right now, but that is to be expected when a lot of these players don’t have experience playing with each other.

Second quarter, 5:41, Raptors 45-42: Bradley leads the Celtics in scoring with 10 points. Even though scoring and outside shooting aren’t two of his strongest skills, the young guard will have to take on a more offensive role with Rondo injured and out of the lineup.

Marshon Brooks has entered the game for Boston. The former first-round pick and Providence Friars star was acquired from the Brooklyn Nets in the summer trade that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to New York.

Second quarter, 7:00, Raptors 38-36: The Celtics have an 8-0 lead in fast-break points. Bradley has pushed the pace and his teammates are filling in the lanes to give him plenty of passing options.

Olynyk goes to the bench with four points and a team-high four rebounds. His ability to run the floor and move the ball with crisp passes isn’t surprising when you consider he was a point guard in high school before his growth spurt. He’s a special talent.

Boston is also 10-for-16 from the floor after starting 0-for-8.

End of the first quarter, Raptors 28-27: The Celtics did well to make up an 8-0 deficit to start the game.

Boston forced eight Toronto turnovers, which helped Bradley and other Celtics guards get out in transition for easy baskets. It’s quite obvious that the Celtics will have an athletic roster, which is a nice change from previous seasons.

Meanwhile, the Celtics committed only one turnover despite the lack of chemistry in the lineup.

To no surprise, rebounding was an issue for Boston. The Celtics ranked 29th in rebounding last season, and Toronto currently holds a 12-4 advantage on the boards.

The Celtics’ aggressiveness was also encouraging. They are taking the ball to the basket consistently and have attempted three more free throws than Toronto (10-for-11 overall from the line).

Valanciunas  and DeRozan led the Raptors with six points in the first quarter. As a team, Toronto shot 10-for-18. Jared Sullinger leads the Celtics with six points in only four minutes of play. Boston is shooting 8-for-21 overall.

First quarter, 3:02, Celtics 19-18 : Rookie forward Kelly Olynyk and newly-acquired forward Gerald Wallace have entered the game.

The bright spot for the Celtics has been the play of Avery Bradley at both ends of the court. He’s pushing the tempo offensively, penetrating to the basket and using his speed and exceptional on-ball defense to force turnovers.

The Celtics are spreading the offense around right now. The ball is moving quickly around the perimeter, which is forcing the Raptors to stay sharp defensively. Six of nine Celtics players have scored thus far.

Olynyk showed his athleticism by driving to the basket for two points and a foul. Not many seven-foot players are blessed with his ability to run the floor and drive to the basket.

First quarter, 6:03, Raptors 14-6:  21-year-old center Jonas Valanciunas has been a force in the paint during the first half of the first quarter.

He has scored six points with three rebounds a block so far. At 6’11”, Valanciunas’ size is causing problems for Humphries, who isn’t a true center.

Speaking of Humphries, he ended an 8-0 Raptors run to begin the game with the Celtics’ first basket.

The Celtics are taking quality shots, but they have hit just one of their first 10 through the first half of the quarter.

7:40 p.m.: We’re underway! Toronto wins the tip and scores immediately for a 2-0 lead.

7:25 p.m.: Starting lineups have been announced for both teams.

Celtics

PG: Avery Bradley
SG: Courtney Lee
SF: Jeff Green
PF: Brandon Bass
C: Kris Humphries

Raptors

PG: Kyle Lowry
SG: Demar DeRozan
SF: Rudy Gay
PF: Amir Johnson
C: Jonas Valanciunas

6 p.m. ET: The starting lineups for tonight’s game have not been announced. With that said, we can expect the Celtics to use Avery Bradley in the starting point guard role while Rajon Rondo recovers from offseason knee surgery.

Bradley has played point guard during his career in Boston as a backup, and also excelled in this position while at Texas.

For what it’s worth, here’s my projected starting five for tonight:

PG: Avery Bradley

SG: Jordan Crawford

SF: Jeff Green

PF: Brandon Bass

C: Kris Humphries

8 a.m. ET: Basketball season is right around the corner.

The Boston Celtics begin their preseason schedule Monday night when they host the division rival Toronto Raptors at TD Garden.

This will be the first game of Brad Stevens’ tenure as head coach of the Celtics. The former Butler Bulldogs coach was hired this summer following the departure of veteran coach Doc Rivers, and the 36-year-old has a tough challenge ahead of him this season with a young roster that has undergone significant changes from last year.

The preseason will be a great opportunity for Stevens and the fans to see which young players have what it takes to earn regular-season roles. These exhibition games will also allow the new coach to determine which starting five will be on the court when the Celtics open the regular season in Toronto at the end of the month.

Join us for live updates at 7:30 p.m. when NBA action returns to the parquet floor.

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