Raptors’ lack of manpower remains biggest issue in latest Celtics loss – .

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Raptors’ lack of manpower remains biggest issue in latest Celtics loss – .


TORONTO – Is there a doctor in the house? Ambulance ? A holistic medicine practitioner? A shaman?
The Toronto Raptors will take just about anyone to help solve what has arguably been their biggest problem since the start of the season.

Forget the poor defense, the sometimes stagnant offense on the half court and the low productivity of the bench. These are just simple consequences of what really plagues the Raptors: the workforce or, rather, its lack.

The Raptors have been playing with disabilities pretty much the entire season, from Pascal Siakam at the start of the season still recovering from off-season shoulder surgery to OG Anunoby who hit his hip in the ‘post-game training on their recent six-game road trip, to a knee issue with Khem Birch and more, the Raptors just can’t seem to recover, and they’ve suffered from it.

Unfortunately for the Raptors, when it rains, it rains.

For the sixth consecutive game, Anunoby was forced out of the lineup with that left hip pointer injury on Sunday against the Boston Celtics with what looks like even more lost games on the horizon – “I haven’t. not really a timeline, but it looks like it’s a problem, “said Toronto head coach Nick Nurse – Birch missed her third game in a row with that right knee swelling and, in a new news for the Raptors, Gary Trent Jr. and Goran Dragic were also not available.

In Trent’s case, he sustained a contusion to his right calf in Friday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers and was forced out of that game midway through the fourth quarter. The nurse described the injury as “just a bruise, but incredibly painful at the moment”, so who knows how many matches that may or may not cost her?

As for Dragic, even though he was, basically, completely out of the rotation anyway, the Raptors have announced that he will simply be completely removed from the team for the foreseeable future.

“Goran Dragic takes some time with the team, with all our support, to run a personal matter,” Raptors general manager Bobby Webster said in a statement.

Regardless of the question – and how infrequently Nurse has used it – that means Dragic is completely unavailable to the Raptors, even as a hot body to use, further compounding the problem the Raptors face.

They just don’t have enough people available to realistically and consistently win matches.

Take what happened on Sunday night as an example when the Raptors fell to the Celtics, 109-97, despite only an eight-point performance from Boston star Jayson Tatum.

The loss dropped Toronto’s record to 9-12 during the season and 2-7 at home as the team entered a long seven-game home stint.

Despite the loss, the Raptors’ efforts certainly did not fail.

Nurse coached the game as if it were a playoff competition, making offensive and defensive substitutions and giving quick hooks to players he felt were not reaching the level he wanted to see, such as when he shot Scottie Barnes just two minutes from the game. game for Yuta Watanabe.

“They tried hard enough, there are just a few things you can’t get over there,” Nurse said. “I thought it was a good effort, but I just didn’t bounce back. “

The quick hook Nurse had on Barnes seemed to trigger something in the rookie. Barnes was strong again finishing with 21 points, including a mark of 4 of 9 on a three-point range – three of those alone in the third quarter.

“It’s good to see him take them and it’s good to see them fall,” Nurse said of Barnes’ three-point marksmanship. “In the long run I think it helps the overall spacing of our attack and will give the other guys a chance to have a little more freedom in their practices. “

Barnes added, “My man was helping me out a lot, really trying to be on the sidelines so most of the time I was just wide open. They encouraged me to shoot, so once I get a shot wide open, I’m just going to shoot it.

The nurse also made it a point to always have at least one of Fred VanVleet or Pascal Siakam on the floor at all times and they delivered for him. VanVleet finished Sunday with a record 27 points and Siakam with 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Siakam played close to 38 minutes and VanVleet around 40. It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s nothing new either and, due to the injuries suffered by the Raptors, it has proven to be necessary.

“I think it’s maybe a little high (tonight) but not too out of reach,” Nurse said of VanVleet, who leads the NBA in minutes played per game. “He has to do a lot. He has to take a lot of shots from the team which keeps a very good player, playing long stretches. But my answer might be to cut a few minutes here or there, but it’s probably 37 or 38, that’s where it will probably be most nights.

In the end, Nurse’s decision to ride with her two horses turned out to be the right one, as the Raptors played a competitive and rambling game, despite only 11 men available.

They were led by one after the first quarter, three at half-time and four at the start of the fourth quarter. But in that final frame, the Raptors simply ran out of gas.

Siakam, sadly, made his fifth foul with 8:22 remaining, forcing him prematurely onto the bench. This allowed the Celtics to launch a quick 6-0 flurry and take a 93-83 lead with 7:25 to go and never look back even after Siakam returned to the game.

The Raptors played as well as they could on Sunday, given the circumstances – especially with Tatum struggling. However, perhaps because of the scant body they had, they were more often found able to come undone by playing a seemingly tough defense, then bailing out the Celtics by finishing the defensive possession by fouling them up and knocking them out. sending them to freedom. – throwing line – especially in the first half of the game.

In total, Boston made 15 more free throws than the Raptors and converted 93.5% of those attempts.

It also didn’t help things that aside from contributions from VanVleet, Siakam, and Barnes, Toronto didn’t have much else.

Svi Mykhailiuk, who started in place of injured Trent, was fine as he scored 12 points, but he was only 2 for 7 on a three-point range – mostly open looks as well.

This is not an indictment on Mykhailiuk, or any other Raptor available on Sunday – except possibly Chris Boucher, who was the only Toronto player dressed to not see the ground.

They are simply overwhelmed and must find a way – any way – to get healthy.

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