Celtics 134 — Raptors 137 |  The Raptors and the NBA enchant Montreal

Celtics 134 — Raptors 137 | The Raptors and the NBA enchant Montreal

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Fire atmosphere. Show at the height. When the NBA arrives in Montreal, Montreal welcomes it with open arms. And at full throttle.

Updated yesterday at 11:21 p.m.

Jean-Francois Teotonio

Jean-Francois Teotonio
The Press

The Toronto Raptors took up residence at the Bell Center for a preseason game on Friday night. They won against the Boston Celtics by a score of 137-134. An electrifying match, clearly focused on the offensive, which did not look like a worthless meeting.

“The fans got their money’s worth tonight,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said at a press conference.

It’s special that there is so much energy in a pre-season game. It’s a big arena. I like that the bleachers go high and fast. It feels like even the spectators at the very top are right above us.

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse

It must be said that the two teams played their last of five preseason games on Friday. We were therefore approaching regular alignments on both sides. For the Raptors, stars OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes played the majority of the minutes and scored most of the points.

At the Celtics, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, two of the big stars of the circuit, seemed ready to start the season. Just like the charismatic Marcus Smart and veteran Al Horford.

Carey Price on the sidelines

All these beautiful people wowed the packed house of 21,900 supporters gathered at the Bell Centre.

Among them, a certain Carey Price under his cowboy hat. His long bent legs almost touched the sidelines. Sitting alongside his wife Angela in the first half, not even the Raptors mascot’s antics moved him. Another cripple of the Canadian, Paul Byron, took place at his side for the second half of the match.


PHOTO ERIC BOLTE, USA TODAY SPORTS

Carey Price and his wife Angela, during the second quarter of the basketball game at the Bell Center, Friday night

You want others, names of famous people seen by The Press ? Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was seated a few benches from those of the Celtics. Guy A. Lepage and his longtime producer Guillaume Lespérance were installed opposite, on the other side of the court. On the opposite side, six CF Montreal players – Romell Quioto, Kei Kamara, Ismaël Koné, Joel Waterman, Zorhan Bassong and Ahmed Hamdi – came to enjoy the show. They were not far from host Sébastien Benoit.

Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia also joined in the festivities. The businessman is best known for attending all of his team’s home games between 1995 and 2021. It’s believed that as you read this, Bhatia is likely still taking selfies with supporters at the Bell Centre.

fireworks

The enthusiasm for this NBA game – even with the “preparatory” label – was undeniable.

The decibels were already high at the start of the meeting. Especially when a Montrealer like Khem Birch, of the Raptors, came forcefully to the basket for a sparkling dunk in the first quarter.


PHOTO GRAHAM HUGHES, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Montrealer Khem Birch (24) started the game at the Bell Center, here against Jaylen Brown (7), of the Celtics.

Khem Birch, a 30-year veteran, has a supporting role with Toronto. But Friday, he was leaving in his hometown.

“It was special for him,” Nurse said. He fights with me to have minutes and chances. I think he took advantage of it tonight. He had an almost perfect match, on both sides of the court. »

But it was Anunoby who was the brightest among the Torontonians. His 32 points were mostly acquired in the first half, before the B teams of the two formations appeared on the court.

The score was 127-127 in the closing seconds. Supporters were on their feet. They stayed that way through the entire pre-overtime commercial break, singing YMCAs with enthusiasm.

The extra five minutes went to the crowd favourites.

“The welcome was incredible,” said Cameroonian Christian Koloko, who is about to play his first season with the Raptors, in French.

“It’s not given in pre-season to have a full stadium. It really helped us at the end of the game, in overtime. »

A real spectacle, we told you. The NBA season begins on Tuesday, October 18.

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