TORONTO, Ont. – While it wasn’t the winning start many fans were looking for, the majority of Toronto Raptors’ fans were just happy to see their squad back on the hardwood after a lengthy lockout.
The Boston Celtics survived a late-game rally by the Raptors to win 76-75, sending the youthful Raptors to their first loss of the pre-season.
Andrea Bargnani led the Raptors with 16 points and 9 rebounds, showing a little rust by shooting a disappointing 4-14 from the field.
The oft-criticized Italian big-man did show an improvement by grabbing 9 boards, as the seven-footer has often been dogged by his lack of rebounding.
Young swingman Demar DeRozan played well, tallying 14 points and shooting a respectable 50% from the field.
The Celtics received a balanced attack, led by 12 points by a slick-shooting Ray Allen.
The team will only play two pre-season games, with the second scheduled for Wednesday.
As things get underway Raptors’ head coach Dwane Casey said there will be mistakes and turnovers, but he wants his team to play hard with ‘razor-like’ focus.
Sportsnet 590 The FAN is the official radio station of the Raptors, and station analyst Eric Smith agrees with Casey, saying “the team has only had a week of training camp.”
“I would expect to see some mistakes out there. Overall, when you look past this game and look into the season itself, you are going to see them a lot more committed to defence and playing with a little more attitude,” Smith said.
So who are the ones to watch this year?
“Keep an eye on DeMar DeRozan for game one and throughout the season because this is a big year for him, in terms of sort of taking that next step,” Smith said.
The raptors play there first game of the regular season on boxing day in Cleveland. For a full list of the Raptors’ game schedule, click here.