BOSTONThe game clock could not count down soon enough in Boston's 100-64 win over the Toronto Raptors. This was one of the few times this season we've seen the Celtics take control of a game from the outset and show no signs of letting up, no cracks to speak of. In games like this, there are a number of players whose game sticks out.
Among the standout performers were Avery Bradley and E'Twaun Moore, who are filling the void created by Rajon Rondo's right wrist injury that has now sidelined him for eight straight games.
Late-game execution is one of those things both young guards need to improve upon.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Boston sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
But to their credit -- and the rest of the Celtics -- there was no need to be precise in executing in the game's final moments.
The execution of the Toronto Raptors had long been completed before the fourth quarter rolled around.
It wouldn't be worth it go into all that went the C's way on Wednesday night.
But there is value in examining the keys identified prior to the game, and seeing how those played out.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Say what you want about Jermaine O'Neal, but there's no disputing the presence he provides defensively when he's healthy. When facing teams with smaller lineups, the C's need to continue to find ways to get him involved because far too often, teams forget about him at the offensive end of the floor. And the C's and O'Neal made the Cavaliers pay for that, as he tallied 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting which included three dunks.
WHAT WE SAW: Foul trouble and the fact that the game was over by halftime, both resulted in O'Neal playing limited minutes. He still had six points on 3-for-4 shooting, along with three rebounds and a blocked shot. Getting a blowout win and needing O'Neal for just under 14 minutes is the kind of game that the C's would love to have all the time.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs. James Johnson: One of Garnett's greatest strengths -- being unselfish -- could be a huge weakness in this matchup. Johnson can not guard Garnett. It's that simple. And the sooner Garnett gets it into his head that he can get pretty much whatever he wants over Johnson, the better off the C's will be.
WHAT WE SAW: Because of the lopsided nature of things, this battle never really materialized. James Johnson had seven points, but he missed eight of his 11 shots before fouling out in the fourth quarter. As for Garnett, had played just under 17 minutes and finished with seven points, five rebounds and four assists.
PLAYER TO WATCH: DeMar DeRozan is playing the small forward position, but he's really more of a shooting guard with size. With Andrea Bargnani (strained left calf) out, DeRozan has become their primary scorer which means Paul Pierce's best contributions today may not necessarily be in his scoring but how he limits DeRozan's point production.
WHAT WE SAW: Even though the absence of Andrea Bargnani means more shot attempts for DeRozan, he has to become a more efficient scorer for his points to have true value. He led the Raptors in shot attempts (12), but he misfired on nine of his attempts.
STAT TO TRACK: The magic number tonight for the Boston Celtics has to be 90. When the Raptors are held below to 90 points or less scored this season, they are 0-11.
WHAT WE SAW: Boston's defense continues to crush weak teams like the Raptors. With a lead that peaked at 40, Boston's defense never allowed Toronto to get into any kind of flow or rhythm. With injuries to key players and a roster that's not overly impressive even when at full strength, Toronto had no chance at winning let alone making the game competitive.