Kyrie Irving gives dead-eye stare from bench during Celtics 20-point loss

Saturday, 02 Mar, 2019

Boston has 21 games remaining on its regular-season schedule before playoff action gets underway.

Only one of those games - Tuesday's 118-95 obliteration of the Celtics - came after the February 7 trade deadline, when Philadelphia and Milwaukee made significant, rotation-altering moves.

Irving had a season-high 43 points on November 16 to lead the Celtics to a 123-116 overtime win against Toronto in Boston.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said the team was not connected, while Marcus Smart offered similar thoughts, saying the team was not together. "That's been the theme for a while". To Celtics guard Marcus Smart, the issue behind Boston's woes is easy to pinpoint. "We've got to have everybody on the same page doing the same things at the same time". "I respect it." When asked if he shared Smart's opinion, Irving did not respond and ended the postgame session.

Nurse said before the game - somewhat surprisingly - that the Raptors did not try to implement any special schemes in order to try to contain Irving's offence in either of those earlier games.

When the team returned to the court for the second half, Stevens said that former Celtics player and NBC Sports Boston commentator Brian Salabrine took off his headset and reminded him about the microphones.

"I don't know, " Irving said. "It's up to Brad".

Tonight, that was not the case - Irving scored seven points, tied for his second-lowest scoring total this season. It was his lowest-scoring game since he had three points against Detroit on October 27.

Toronto started to roll in the second quarter, an impressive offensive jaunt that was initiated by a hustling Lowry, who flung his body to the ground at the top of the key while making a scoop pass to Norman Powell, who was situated in three-point territory. Despite being one of the brightest young minds in coaching, Stevens has failed to properly manage this group of personalities. But Ibaka's 3-pointer had Toronto ahead by 22 with 4:35 remaining in the quarter. Siakam matched his career-best by connecting four times in five attempts from long range. A pair of emphatic dunks from Leonard, with the latter coming after another Boston turnover, extended Toronto's lead to 20 points at 59-39 three minutes before halftime. "This game's over with, and we've gotta focus on tomorrow and get ready to come out and play". "Obviously, when we get stops we're risky in transition". "'I thought we were outplayed in every which way".

It all amounted to the Raptors waltzing off the floor with an inspiring 66-45 advantage at the half.

To say the Celtics laid an egg Tuesday night would be an understatement.

He's been especially lethal in late minutes, scoring or assisting on 25 of Boston's 28 made shots in the fourth quarter and overtime in the Celtics wins on November 16 and January 16. With few exceptions, the Celtics have at least put up a fight against the NBA's best teams this season. As much as Boston was blind-sided by Saturday's 126-116 loss to the Chicago Bulls, this one was different.

The Raptors outscored the Celtics 29-9 in fast break points. The Celtics now hold the season series lead with a 2-1 record against the Raptors so far.