Another comeback falls short in preseason loss to Raptors

Another comeback falls short in preseason loss to Raptors
October 16, 2013, 10:00 pm
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TORONTO — One of the reasons the Toronto Raptors are considered a possible playoff team this year is because they came into the preseason with a starting five already established.

"We're certainly not in the boat where we know what our lineups are going to be, but we're getting closer," new Celtics coach Brad Stevens said prior to a 99-97 preseason loss in Toronto on Wednesday night. "I do feel good about how we've progressed."

After spending most of the fourth quarter fighting off a double-digit deficit, the Celtics had a chance to tie it or win it when Toronto's Julyan Stone missed a wide open dunk that was rebounded by Vitor Faverani.

The ball was advanced up court quickly, and Jordan Crawford launched a potential game-winning 3-pointer that was an air-ball, but wound up in the hands of Jared Sullinger.

Sullinger's attempt at a put-back hit the bottom of the rim as time expired.

In many ways, this was yet another "good, but not good enough to win" performance by the Celtics (1-5).

Stevens will do as he has done after every game, which is to pull out some positives, pinpoint the negatives and try to shift them as much as he can to the opposite end of the spectrum.

Among them certainly was MarShon Brooks team-high 17 points, 15 of which came in the fourth quarter.

Still, what has to be somewhat concerning is that the teams that have beaten the Celtics throughout the preseason, have done it for the most part playing training camp invitees, who in a few weeks won't be with those respective teams, or in the NBA for that matter.

And the Raptors deserve special attention, considering the Celtics will kick off the regular season in the Air Canada Centre against the Raptors on Oct. 30.

"We're going to be as focused as we can for that season opener and play as well as we can," Stevens said, adding, "but it's one of 82 games. Rather than get too cute or too tricky, it's better to just get good at who we are."

And exactly, who are the Celtics?

A simple question, right?

But the answer to it?

Not so much.

The preseason is about discovery of not just players, but patterns that give some clue as to how a team will perform when the games start to count.

Unfortunately for the Celtics, there have been some trends they would just as soon break ... now!

As they have done most of the preseason, the Celtics found themselves digging out of a huge first-quarter hole as Toronto surged ahead by as many as 13 in the quarter.

Just as consistent has been Boston's ability to battle back and make the game respectable, which they did in the first quarter by trimming Toronto's lead to just 31-26.

The second quarter was good to the Celtics, who wiped out Toronto's lead and led 53-51 at the half.

Leading the Celtics' comeback was Canadian-born Kelly Olynyk, who scored nine of his 11 first-half points in the second quarter.

He finished with 13 points and nine rebounds.

Boston also got a strong showing from Vitor Faverani who had nine first-half points, seven of which came in the second quarter. He finished with 13 points.

Despite a rare halftime lead for the Celtics, Boston reverted back to the struggles experienced in the first quarter.

Still, instead of Rudy Gay and Kyle Lowry hurting them (they only played in the first quarter), it was Terrence Ross and Landry Fields giving Boston major problems as they combined for 17 of Toronto's 29 third-quarter points.

The momentum completely swung in Toronto's favor as they closed out the third with an 11-0 run that proved to be too big a hurdle for the Celtics to overcome.

By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the Raptors were simply doing just enough to get the win, while the Celtics once again found themselves taking away some positives but failing to leave with the positive of all positives ... a win.