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3 key takeaways from Raptors’ blowout win over Celtics

Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors Takeaways, Celtics Raptors

Well, that was fun. After getting handled easily by the Washington Wizards on opening night, the Toronto Raptors bounced back against the Boston Celtics on Friday with a 115-83 victory that saw pretty much everything go their way.

Here are three key takeaways from the game that are also simply things to keep an eye on:

Raptors Takeaways After Walloping Celtics

Scottie Barnes mayhem

It’s difficult to believe that anyone saw an outburst like this coming in Scottie Barnes’ second NBA game. Except for Barnes himself, and perhaps Bobby Webster and Masai Ujiri.

On Friday night, Barnes erupted for 25 points, 13 rebounds and two assists on a volcanic 65 percent shooting. He was a game-high +29 and the most dominant player on the floor for both teams—and yes, that includes Fred VanVleet and Jayson Tatum.

Barnes did a little bit of everything—he initiated more of the offense in the half-court; pushed the ball and fired it ahead on the break; played his relentless style of defense that, even when overeager, is classically endearing; and showed a more expansive offensive game than he has to this point, draining both pull-up (including a three) and catch-and-shoot jumpers.

If Barnes is able to consistently play at this level, the Raptors may have to start thinking about seriously keeping him in the starting lineup, even when Pascal Siakam returns.

Peak Raptors

This is it. This is what the Raptors will look like at their best this season: Tight, fluid rotations on defense, insanely long limbs flailing for deflections and keeping opponents from crushing them in the paint; generating turnovers and getting out into the open floor as quickly as possible to create easy scoring opportunities; crashing the offensive glass in the half-court to try and help mitigate the lack of rim pressure; hardly ever turning the ball over, limiting the transition game for opponents; and playing a generally hyper-aggressive style that emits boundless levels of youthful energy.

What is likely to happen most of the time is that the Raptors will play somewhere between their dismal showing in the season opener and Friday night’s pristine performance, but getting to see what the Raptors are capable of this early is certainly a treat.

Patience required with Anunoby

For the second-straight game this season, Anunoby had a rough night in the new, higher usage role he’s taken on with Kyle Lowry no longer on the team and Siakam lost to injury.

He shot just 4-18 ( percent) from the floor, and in particular wound up making some backwards decisions concerning mismatches, attempting to pull-up on bigs (Al Horford had a notable block on one three-point try) rather than use his speed to get by them on the perimeter, and blow past guards rather than utilize his height to shoot over them.

Of course, the situation coming into this season is an entirely alien one to Anunoby. Never has he had defense plan for him as a potential go-to option, never has he tried upping his usage to this level, and never has he looked to capitalize on such a difficult shot diet.

What Anunoby showed in the preseason wasn’t nothing, but it also wasn’t sustainable to that degree. The true test will be if he can manage to consistently find a balance between shooting lights out on such tough shots and the admittedly poor start he’s had the last two games.

It will take time. It will take patience.

For now, the reps are good enough.