TORONTO -- There's a reason why the Boston Celtics will shorten their rotation when the playoffs roll around this weekend.
After watching Wednesday's 114-90 season-ending loss to the Raptors, you can see why.
Boston, having already clinched the No. 7 seed, played its bench extensively on Wednesday with the goal being to give the backups some last-minute reps while providing rest for the team's core guys. From that standpoint, the C's were successful.
But beyond that, this game wasn't even close. Toronto played its core players most of the way, finally shutting them down going into the fourth quarter while sporting a 26-point lead.
The outcome of this game had absolutely no significance to the Celtics in terms of their big picture, which is to advance as far as they can in the playoffs. If anything, it reinforced why certain guys are backups and others have been in and out of the league.
Aside from the loss, the only real negative for Boston was Paul Pierce (sore left ankle) and Shavlik Randolph (bruised lower back) not returning in the second half. Holding them out was done as a precautionary measure, with both expected to be good to go for the playoff series against the New York Knicks that begins this weekend.
Their absences in the second half -- in addition to the fact that Rivers had already given Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry the night off -- added up to a decisive win for the Raptors.
Rivers had also said before the game that three other starters -- Jeff Green, Pierce and Brandon Bass -- would see less time than usual. Green had nine points while playing 16 minutes. Bass had six points in 18 minutes and Pierce finished with 11 points in 15 minutes on 5-for-7 shooting.
Things were relatively close through the first six or seven minutes, with Bass draining a 17-footer to tie the game at 17-17.
From there, the Raptors went on a 9-2 run capped off by a 3-pointer by Rudy Gay. The C's, however, rallied back to within a point after Jordan Crawford's bank shot from 40-feet out to end the first quarter, and eventually went ahead 37-36 on a fade-away jumper by Crawford. But the Raptors countered with a 10-2 run to move ahead, 46-39.
Toronto, which finished the year by winning four straight and six of its last seven, continued to give its core guys their usual minutes, which allowed the Raptors to continue playing with a comfortable lead that peaked at 12 points before they settled on a 59-49 halftime edge.
The third quarter was one of the worst played by the C's all season. They were outscored 37-21, which put the game out of reach.