The Raptors have won their first five games since a Dec. 1 trade with the Chicago Bulls, showcasing a resurgent offense averaging 100 points per game during that stretch.
Right before the trade, Toronto general manager Glen Grunwald spoke with dismay after watching his team score 65 points or fewer four times this season.
“It’s obviously an issue that we have to address,” Grunwald said on Nov. 25. “We’ve had some stinker games.”
Now, Toronto has its longest win streak since winning nine in a row from March 22-April 9, 2002.
“It feels great to be here,” said Jalen Rose, one of three players who came over from Chicago. “The mark of a good team is winning in different ways. We’ve won on the road, we’ve come from behind, we’ve won with defense and we can go out and score. I’m looking forward to having a lot of fun here.”
Raptors coach Kevin O’Neill has been impressed with the chemistry his team has established since the deal that brought Rose, Marshall and Lonny Baxter across the border in exchange for Antonio Davis, Jerome Williams and Chris Jeffries.
“From the day it happened, I felt all three of them would be solid contributors,” O’Neill said. “It’s great to have Jalen Rose, though. He really took over the game (Tuesday) and Vince took over at the end. We’re really not running plays yet. These guys are just going out and winning.”
The Celtics don’t need to be reminded of how different the Raptors are, having watched them set a franchise record with 17 3-pointers in a 105-95 loss at Toronto on Dec. 3.
Boston followed that defeat by blowing a 29-point lead in a loss to Phoenix, but has since recovered to win a season-high three straight.
It was the fourth straight game Boston scored at least 100 points after reaching the century mark only once in its previous 18 games.
“We are still a new team,” James said. “We won’t know our identity until the second half of the season.”
STANDINGS (through Dec. 10): Raptors - 4th place, 3 1/2 GB, Central Division. Celtics - 3rd place, 2 GB, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Raptors - Carter, 22.9 ppg and 5 apg; Bosh, 6.8 rpg. Celtics - Pierce, 23.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg and 5.5 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Raptors, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 3; Raptors, 105-95. At Toronto, Marshall and Carter each scored 21 points as the Raptors established a season high in points.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Raptors - 5-6 on the road; Celtics - 5-6 at home.