Three days ago, the Toronto Raptors were soundly beaten at home on Christmas Day by the Boston Celtics.
Saturday night, however, the Raptors turned the tables and beat the Celtics 113-97 at TD Garden in a game Toronto led wire-to-wire. So, what changed?
“We’ve got pros,” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry told ESPN. “We’ve got guys who don’t care what people say. We’ve got guys that kind of just don’t give a f— and just go out there and work.
“Like tonight, Oshae Brissett, no one knows who the hell he is and he comes in and steps up. Chris [Boucher] has been playing great. Freddy [VanVleet] had a rough start but finished strong.nfl jerseys cheap nike
“We have guys that just don’t care. We are going to go play. No matter what, where, how, we’re going to go play.”
The Raptors have had no choice but to adopt that mentality, as they have been dealing with one injury after another all season long. Toronto is currently without emerging star Pascal Siakam, starting center Marc Gasol and key reserve Norman Powell — three of the team’s top seven players — because of injuries that have them all out indefinitely.
The top eight players in Toronto’s rotation — those three, plus Lowry, VanVleet, Patrick McCaw, Serge Ibaka and OG Anunoby — have all missed at least one game, and all but Anunoby have missed at least five.
In total, the Raptors entered Saturday having lost 103 games to injury this season — tied for fourth most in the NBA. The three teams above them — the Golden State Warriors, Washington Wizards and Portland Trail Blazers — all have losing records. The Raptors, on the other hand, sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, one game behind the Celtics in third and two behind the Miami Heat in second.nike nfl jerseys for cheap
“We have a lot of talent,” VanVleet said. “We have a lot of unselfish guys with a lot of talent that play hard and play together, and we have great coaching to put us in good positions. … If you go out there and play as hard as you can, you have a chance on any given night.”
For the most part, Toronto has done that. It has allowed the Raptors to survive the injuries, and it also has led them in several memorable comebacks — most notably last Sunday’s recovery from a 30-point deficit late in the third quarter to win at home against the Dallas Mavericks. On this night, though, it actually was the opposite, as the Celtics repeatedly cut their game-long deficit to three or four points — only for the Raptors to respond with a run to push their lead back out to double-digits again every time.
They were able to do so thanks to contributions across the board, and from some unlikely sources — including McCaw, who had his best game as a pro, finishing with 18 points, seven rebounds and eight assists in 43 minutes, while rookie Brissett had four points and six rebounds in 15 minutes.