Welcome to the "10 things" recap by theScore features writer William Lou. Below you'll find major takeaways from the Toronto Raptors' 117-108 loss against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.
Impressive: Despite all their road woes, the Celtics always seem to step it up at home, improving to 16-5 at TD Garden on the season after defeating the Raptors. Boston used an 11-0 run in the final moments of the fourth to seal the victory.
Superstar: The Raptors had no answer for Kyrie Irving, who finished with 27 points and 18 assists. Irving consistently got into the paint and found open shooters when the Raptors collapsed the paint. He also drilled the biggest shot of the night when he pulled up from the logo late to give Boston a five-point advantage.
Revived: Lingering knee issues didn't seem to bother Al Horford one bit, as he was clinical in the two-man game with Irving. Horford hit 3-of-4 from deep on pick-and-pops and even rose up for a few rare alley-oop finishes. Boston needs this version of Horford throughout the playoffs to have any hope of to winning the East.
Spark: Gordon Hayward completely disappeared in the second half, but he was instrumental in a lopsided 34-17 second quarter for the Celtics. He was steady and confident coming off the high screen, had good balance on his midrange shot, and was outscoring the entire Raptors bench until the fourth quarter.
Power: Toronto made a concerted effort to get into the paint against a Celtics team that is short on rim protection, and the strategy worked for the most part. The Raptors scored 58 points in the paint and grabbed 14 offensive rebounds, but they also ran out of gas toward the end. Serge Ibaka, in particular, didn't seem to have his lift at the end of the game after he exhausted himself with a 22-point, 10-rebound effort.
Ineffective: Kyle Lowry muscled his way to the basket a few times in the first quarter but completely faded as the night went on. Plagued by a persistent back issue, Lowry can no longer create his own shot effectively. He's forcing the issue, which isn't helping the team. He took an ill-advised pullup three in transition which clanked and directly led to a pivotal and-1 opportunity for Jayson Tatum on the other end.
Solo: Kawhi Leonard can get his shot off against anybody on the Celtics, and it looked for a moment as though he would single-handedly will the Raptors to victory. But Toronto badly needs to find a secondary creator who can take the pressure of Leonard in crunch time. He's not the type of crafty shot-maker who can get a basket every trip down the floor - Leonard relies heavily on his physicality and it can exhaust him.
Missed: The Raptors badly missed OG Anunoby (personal) in this specific match-up. Anunoby would be the designated wing defender against a point forward like Hayward, and he can hit the corner three to stretch the floor as a small-ball four. Toronto's bench backcourt was completely smothered tonight as the likes of Fred VanVleet and Delon Wright were simply too weak to create against Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart.
Unbalanced: Norman Powell continues to make positive contributions, and he is oftentimes the only player who can create offense off the Raptors' bench. However, he needs the ball in his hands to be effective, which creates redundancy with players like VanVleet and Wright. Toronto would really benefit from one of their surplus guards being moved for a reliable catch-and-shoot wing.
Unsung: Aron Baynes was a huge contributor for the Celtics in his return from a hand injury. He nailed his open jumpers, got on the offensive glass, dug his forearm into Lowry's bad back, and solidified the defense for the second unit.