There’s plenty of time to go and that’s good because there’s plenty of work to do for the Raptors.

It was hardly a crisp and pretty performance to open the NBA regular season — too many turnovers, too much stagnant offence, too many missed free throws — but the only thing that truly matters is the outcome.

And beating the Boston Celtics 93-87 before an Air Canada Centre sellout crowd announced at 20,155 was good enough for everyone, despite the struggles.

“A lot of work, a lot of work to do,” coach Dwane Casey said after the team’s starting five pulled away to win in the final seven minutes of the game. “Defensively, a team can’t shoot 48 per cent against you, that’s not who we are, it’s not what we want to stand for. I thought we grinded it out and got tough when they made their run.”

But as will likely be the case whenever the Raptors win this season, victory came about when the team’s starters got together as a fourth-quarter unit.

Toronto had blown a 16-point third-quarter lead and the game was tied entering the fourth. Casey, who had massaged his starters’ minutes as best he could to that point, had Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas on the court when it counted.
It might not have been a pretty finish but it was effective.
“We had to have them in there to finish, we had to give them a blow and they came in and closed it out and did the job,” said the coach.

Even then, it wasn’t true to a script a coach would draw up. The ball stuck too often on offence, the defence was OK but not spectacular and a lot of Toronto’s success was due to the ineptitude of the Celtics.

The Raptors will only be effective offensively when they share the ball and trust each other; there was too much one-on-one play and standing around in the final six minutes.