It wasn’t the home opener the Boston Celtics were hoping for. Backing up after a draining double-overtime loss to the New York Knicks, the Celtics were run out of TD Garden by the Toronto Raptors, 115-83.
New head coach Ime Udoka didn’t hold back with his assessment of the performance.
“I said to the group that’s as ugly as it can get,” said Udoka.
“One thing I can’t stand as a coach is getting punked out there. I felt they basically came out and punked us, outplayed us, played harder than us, all the things we talked about.”
The Celtics were jeered off the floor by their home fans, with the Celtics now 0-2 on the season.
“You don’t want to overreact and panic. We’re going to stay together and keep our head up. I said to use these boos as motivation. We deserved it the way we played.”
For a Boston team that has hopes of pushing into the contending group in the East, two consecutive losses against teams in the chasing tier is not how they would have wanted to start the season.
Jayson Tatum had another quiet night by his standards, managing only 18 points in 30 minutes.
“Its not fun. It’s not fun to play, I’m sure it wasn’t fun to watch for the fans. It was tough,” Tatum said. “First game at home, we didn’t want it to be like that. We were too relaxed, we just didn’t play hard enough. They just lost on their home court, we should’ve expected a punch from them.”
It’s far too early for the Celtics to panic, but it’s clear the frustration set in at times, with Tatum picking up a technical foul during the second quarter that seemed to displease Udoka.
“I don’t claim to be perfect at all. I make mistakes all the time and I want to be held accountable by my teammates, myself, and you guys,” Tatum said.
Veteran Al Horford, who made his home return in Boston echoed the sentiment that effort was a problem for the Celtics.
“It’s something we need to address,” said Horford. “We can’t be like that. You have to be able to tighten up on those things.”
It’s been a sloppy start from Boston, with 25 turnovers against the Raptors following on from 18 against the Knicks. The Celtics will now attempt to get their season rolling on the road against the Houston Rockets on Sunday night.