Celtics, Raptors hope to rebound from season-opening losses

NBA

Neither the Toronto Raptors nor the Boston Celtics were able to pull out victories in their respective season openers.

Both will look to break into the win column for the first time this season as Jaylen Brown and the Celtics host Fred VanVleet and the Raptors in their home opener Friday night.

Brown went off for a career-high 46 points in Wednesday’s season opener at the New York Knicks, but it wasn’t enough as the Celtics fell 138-134 in double overtime.

A first-time All-Star a season ago, Brown logged 46 minutes and went 16-of-30 from the field — including 8-of-14 shooting from 3-point range — while grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out six assists.

Brown got the start after testing positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 8 and being away from the team on quarantine. He was cleared to rejoin the team on Tuesday.

“How did I do it? I think just being aggressive — I don’t know how I did it,” a visibly tired Brown said postgame. “Towards the end I could feel my heart beating through my chest, but it would’ve been better if we got a win.”

Brown’s fellow backcourt star Jayson Tatum struggled through an off night and had 20 points on 7-of-30 shooting, making just two of 15 shots from long distance.

“He carried us tonight,” Tatum said of Brown. “He was unbelievable. I wish I could’ve done my part.”

Celtics center Al Horford remained out while in the NBA’s health and safety protocols following a positive COVID test. Guard Josh Richardson was a late scratch due to a migraine.

Toronto struggled to put points on the board with star forward Pascal Siakam sidelined in its 98-83 loss to the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.

VanVleet and Scottie Barnes led the Raptors with 12 points apiece. OG Anunoby grabbed 10 boards and scored 11 points, completing Toronto’s short list of double-figure scorers.

Siakam recently returned to practice in a limited capacity after undergoing offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

“There’s gonna be some of these (games like this) — it is what it is,” VanVleet said postgame. “We’re trying things — a lot of things — and none of it was working tonight. Hopefully we’ll go back to the drawing board (and) try to come up with something that will work for us in Boston.”

It was the Raptors’ first true home game since Feb. 28, 2020 after relocating to Tampa, Fla., last season due to COVID-related travel restrictions.

“It seemed to me we weren’t fully engaged and something was there, and it probably was just a pretty big moment,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said.

Toronto was swept in its three games against Boston in last year’s pandemic-shortened regular season. The Raptors have dropped four straight to the Celtics and six of their last seven meetings since the start of the 2019-20 season.

Friday’s game will mark the regular season home debut for Celtics coach Ime Udoka, who was hired over the offseason after longtime coach Brad Stevens was elevated to a front office role.

–Field Level Media

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