Fournier's nightmare debut and total Raptors disaster

The Celtics go back to their old ways and the Raptors sink into an East that is gibberish and in which Butler rescued the Heat at Madison.


The public returned to the Garden 55 weeks later. 2,298 people, 12% of the total capacity of the pavilion, attended something similar to the total Celtics experience 2020-21: good sections, bad sections, problems, ups and downs, sinks, comebacks ... and final defeat (109-115), this time against some Pelicans who are learning not to lose even matches, their great cross. And that they are in time not to waste their entire season. At 21-25 but with four wins in five games, they are twelfth in the West but a game and a half behind the tenth in the West, a play-in zone they are chasing alongside the Kings, also on the rise.

The Celtics, in their season as a psychiatrist couch, are 23-24, now seventh in an East in which nothing is what it seems (or quite the opposite) beyond the Sixers, Nets and Bucks: there are six teams among the 23 -22 for the Hornets and 21-24 for the Pacers. Six in two games. The Celtics, in short, are still negative after returning 50% of victories with two in a row. Back home, they lost a good chance to build up optimism in another generally bad game, in which the good times didn't outnumber the highly questionable ones. And in which Marcus Smart was once again the heart, and the beats, of his team for better and for worse. Fallón, unstable and finally expelled, also the most rebellious in the face of adversity and the spirit in a couple of disconnected reactions in the second part.The second one almost propitiated an explosive comeback: from 89-105 with five minutes left to 107-110 in the last minute. Jayson Tatum scored 12 of his 34 points there (with 9 rebounds and 5 assists), but the Celtics fell one defense away from having a ball for the miracle. Brandon Ingram (25 points, 9 assists) hit a basket with his heels on the triple line (107-112 with 33 seconds remaining) and Tatum missed later. The rest were, with the expulsion of Smart, free throws by Ingram himself and a Zion that finished with 28 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals. And that he has 24 games with at least 20 points and 50% in shots. One of Shaquille O'Neal's record (25), the top since the shot clock exists (1954-55) .

In addition, Josh Hart played one of those games so much his (15 points, 15 rebounds), invaluable for a Pelicans who are still without Lonzo Ball but have stabilized with Alexander-Walker forming a backcourt with Bledsoe (30 points between the two). In front, and without Jaylen Brown, a tremendous irregularity to which the terrible debut of Evan Fournier collaborated, who avoided a long absence due to health protocols (false positive) and debuted in Boston with 0 points and 0/10 in shots in 33 minutes. He added two rebounds, did not give assists and even easy baskets went to him. Never in the history of the Celtics since there is a line of three (1980), a player had played so many minutes and shot so much to the basket without scoring. Fournier is a good scorer, a player who will contribute points from the second unit. This nightmare night will remain as an anecdote for him. But the problem, the real problem, is that Danny Ainge doesn't seem to have really done his homework at the close of the market for a team that, between good and bad days, never seems anywhere near the best in the East. And that was his obligation as a Conference finalist.


Just like the old days. In the 90s, the Knicks-Heat were synonymous with defense, steel, hitting, muscle and a fierce rivalry in the playoffs. Almost as if they relived those old days, Madison's duel was resolved in a grueling fight, possession by possession, in which they decided to uncork the visitors in the third quarter (21-39 with 14 points from Jimmy Butler. 3-0 in the season for the Heat (three games in which the maximum score was 109 points) and two teams in full jam in the East, 24-23 the Knicks (who had three consecutive victories) and 23-24 the Heat, who broke a terrible six-game losing streak.

At the break, things looked bad for Spoelstra's team, who had 36 points (43-36) with 14 baskets for 6 losses, 33% in total shots and 21% in triples. But Butler appeared (at the end 27 + 5 + 6), Adebayo (20 + 17 + 4) and a Tyler Herro who broke his terrible shooting streak (18 points), and who added with Duncan Robinson an 8/18 in triples essential in such a low scoring game. The Knicks tried to get off the canvas (78-86 midway through the fourth quarter), but they had no aim. Julius Randle's 22 points were almost half of the 46 added by the entire starting five (8 with 12 shots from RJ Barrett), rescued by the contribution from the bench by Derrick Rose (16 points) and Quickley (12) .


From that hodgepodge of the East the Raptors continue to fall, to whom the weakness of the Conference continues to give extra lives that, frankly, they are not deserving. After losing (118-104) for the third time in March against the Pistons (3-0 in the series of the season), Nick Nurse's team have twelve defeats in thirteen games and are 18-29. Eleven from 50% but only two from tenth place, from the Bulls, which gives access to play in.

The Pistons have thirteen victories (13-33) and three have added them against the Canadians, who gave a dire image, with disadvantages of more than 20 points in the first half and 23 in the second. Kyle Lowry played impaired (foot injury), Fred VanVleet started well but despaired, Siakam had a horrible night with many foul problems, Anunoby was forced to try things that did not correspond to him in attack and Boucher continues with his regression after its excellent start to the season. As almost always, the Raptors missed an interior reference and more production from the bench: 65-25 for the Pistons reserves, with 14 points from Stewart, 12 from Jackson, 19 and 10 rebounds from Diallo, 17 + 4 + 5 by Joseph…

The Raptors were 16-15 on February 22. After between injuries, health protocols and problems with the market closure, the disaster has arrived. Unable to even compete against the Pistons without the best version of Grant (7 points) and led by two rookies, the brilliant Saddiq Bey (19 points, 5 triples) and a Saben Lee who asks for passage and who in his second game as a starter signed a great first half and finished with 19 points and 5 assists.

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