Raptors headed back to post-season despite loss
Team drops game to Boston Celtics 91-79
The Toronto Raptors, after falling 91-79 to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, still managed to secure a spot in the NBA playoffs with a little help from the New York Knicks.
The Raptors clinched a berth in the post-season after the Chicago Bulls dropped a 115-107 decision to New York.
Toronto is on pace to claim its third straight Atlantic Division title with a 48-22 record. The Raptors are just one victory away from tying the franchise's single-season record for wins, which was set last year.
Lack of Lowry shows
Isaiah Thomas scored 23 points and Evan Turner added 17 for the Celtics.
Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry sat out, resting a sore right elbow.
Avery Bradley finished with 16 points and eight rebounds as the Celtics won their third consecutive game.
Boston had what had been an eight-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter cut to a point. But the Celtics responded with a 10-4 run to get the separation they needed to close it out.
DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 21 points.
Toronto had a four-game winning streak snapped and fell 2 1/2 games behind Cleveland for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
"They beat us. They spanked us," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. "We talked about how good of a team they are if we don't play with force. When you don't play with force you're going to have trouble scoring, and we had trouble scoring."
Toronto also played without forward Patrick Patterson, who missed his second straight game with a sore left ankle. The Celtics remained without starting forward Jae Crowder as he recovers from a right ankle sprain.
In addition to Lowry, Toronto also played without forward Patrick Patterson, who missed his second straight game with a sore left ankle. The Celtics remained without starting forward Jae Crowder as he recovers from a right ankle sprain.
Toronto trailed 69-58 late in the third quarter before using a 10-0 run to get back into the game. The Celtics missed eight straight shots during the run.
But Boston responded with its 10-4 spurt, getting its lead back up to 79-72.
The first half was tight throughout, with 10 lead changes and neither team holding more than a three-point lead.
The victory ensured the Celtics will finish with at least a .500 record — its first since coach Brad Stevens took over three years ago.
"I feel like there's real progress. And it's pretty consistent progress," Stevens said. "But ... you don't sign up to come to the Boston Celtics to win 42 games. So we've got a long way to go."
With files from CBC Sports