Raptors Pull Away To Drop Celtics In Preseason Debut

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Some general thoughts after the Raptors open the preseason with a 97-89 win over the Celtics at TD Garden in Boston.

-  The first thing head coach Dwane Casey spoke about post-game? Turnovers. The Raptors coughed it up a whopping 25 times with the starters turning it over a total of 16 times.

“I know it’s an exhibition game, but we’ve got to get that way down,” said Casey.

– We saw both the impressive growth and the room for improvement from Jonas Valanciunas in this one. He seemed to be more of a focal point offensively than we saw last season and the Celtics didn’t seem to have much of an answer for him.

But the propensity for foul trouble is still there. Early on, he picked up a loose ball foul after a DeMar DeRozan 3-point miss and got caught in the air on a Kris Humphries shot fake shortly after that.

After the break he racked up his fifth personal with 3:40 to play in the third and sat until mid-way through the fourth quarter  before fouling out with 3:41 to play. Despite the foul trouble, he finished with an efficient double-double of 10 points (5-8 FGM-A) and 10 rebounds in just over 27 minutes of work.

– Solid performance from Terrence Ross (6-10 FGM-A for 12 points) at both ends of the floor, which had Casey lauding the “playoff intensity” of the second-year swingman post-game.

“I played hard at the defensive end and didn’t’ rush things, kind of let things come to me,” Ross said of his play. “I just made the right reads and I attacked a lot more and that’s something I’ve been working on in the offseason.”

Taking a step forward in a second year at a particular level isn’t anything new for Ross, who made significant statistical strides in his sophomore season at the University of Washington. He’s confident that can happen again as a pro.

“That’s what I’ve been telling everybody, my second year is always a better year. I did it in high school and college, so I think it’s just translating.”

– Raptors fans got their first look at Tyler Hansbrough in action (who missed the team’s intra-squad scrimmage in Halifax) and he came every bit as advertised. The agitator was all over the offensive glass (six offensive boards), got to the line frequently (7-8 FTM-A) and added some much needed snarl inside.

Hansbrough tied Rudy Gay for game-high honours with 17 points, nine total rebounds and a block and said Raptors fans can expect much of the same this season.

“I definitely have improved my outside jump shot a little bit, but yeah, that was a pretty good look at my game right there.”

– Much was made about the efficiency of the DeRozan/Gay wing duo this past offseason and while they went a combined 1-for-4 from beyond the arc (a couple of those we forced late in the shot clock), they did hit 13 of their 25 shot attempts (52%) from inside the 3-point line. DeRozan, in particular, showed some impressive moves in the post.

“I felt they had good shot selection,” Casey said post-game. “They did a good job playing together. They didn’t really get a rhythm just because the subsitution patterns are not normal… but I thought they played well together.”

– Surefire sign it’s preseason? After eight minutes of first-quarter play all five starters were on the bench in favour of D.J. Augustin, Landry Fields, Austin Daye, Ross and Hansbrough. By game’s end, no Raptor had logged more minutes than Valanciunas’ 27 minutes.

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