Celtics Square Off Against Raptors...Again

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Boston Celtics (27-7) vs. Toronto Raptors (12-23)
Friday, January 7, 2010
7:30pm
TV: Comcast SportsNet [] Radio: 850 AM WEEI
Location: TD Garden - Boston, Massachusetts

Winners of three straight games, the Boston Celtics will welcome the Toronto Raptors into the TD Garden tonight at 7:30pm for an Atlantic Division bout. 

If this all sounds familiar, it probably should by now. Tonight's game will mark the fourth (and final) time these two teams have played each other this season. The last time these two teams squared off was just this past Sunday, with the Celtics handing the Raptors a 93-79 loss in Toronto. That win for Boston ignited its current three-game winning streak. The Raptors were playing without the talents - err- services of center Andrea Bargnani in that game.

The Celtics are coming off of a 105-103 squeaker over the San Antonio Spurs, in which Rajon Rondo notched a monster triple-double (his second of the season): 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 22 assists, to go along with six steals. 

The Raptors, meanwhile, have lost six of their last eight games (including falling to Boston on Sunday), but managed to defeat the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, 120-105 behind 25 points from Bargnani. 

Projected Starters

Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Glen Davis, and Shaquille O'Neal

Raptors: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozen, Linas Kleiza, Amir Johnson, and Andrea Bargnani. 

Injuries

For the Celtics, forward Kevin Garnett (calf), center Kendrick Perkins (knee), and guard Delonte West (wrist) are all out. 

For the Raptors, forwards Peja Stojakovic (knee) and Reggie Evans (foot) are out, as are guards Jerryd Bayless (ankle) and Sonny Weems (back). 

Who's Hot

For the Celtics, Ray Allen shot 13-16 from the field and finished with 31 points against the Spurs on Wednesday.

For the Raptors, Bargnani shot 10-20 from the floor (3-6 from the nation) in a victory over the Cavaliers on Wednesday. 

Who's Not

For the Celtics, Von Wafer missed all three of his field goal attempts against the Spurs on Wednesday.

For the Raptors, DeMar DeRozen shot 6-15 against the Cavaliers on Wednesday, finishing with 13 points.

Key Matchup

Shaquille O'Neal vs. Andrea Bargnani

Things to Watch For

  • How will the Celtics go about defending Bargnani tonight? The versatile center - a career 37.4 percent three-point shooter - often stretches his game past the three-point line, where Shaquille O'Neal arguably doesn't want to go, especially if Bargnani plans on taking him off the dribble. Will Glen Davis start out on him and Shaq will cover the athletic Amir Johnson?
  • The Raptors ripped off 19 offensive rebounds against the Celtics last Sunday (without the seven-foot tall Bargnani). Will Boston do a better job of cleaning up on the defensive glass tonight?
  • The pace of Sunday's game arguably favored the Raptors, as they were able to create in transition and register 29 fast break points. What will tonight's game bring?
  • How will DeMar DeRozen fare on the offensive end tonight? On Sunday he notched 27 points, although he needed 25 shots (he made 11 of them) to get there. 
  • Rajon Rondo returned from a seven-game absence against the Raptors on Sunday and finished with four points and eight assists - modest numbers based on the standards he has set this season. He's tallied 38 assists in the two games he's played since. With him perhaps less limited than he was on Sunday, how will he handle Toronto's defense?
  • Ray Allen was a full-on sniper against the Spurs on Wednesday, particularly off of plays in which he curled around screens to create openings for jump shots. The Celtics fed him throughout the first quarter - something we haven't seen too much of lately - and he finished the opening frame with 10 points on 5-6 shooting. Will the Celtics look to get him involved early once again tonight? Allen scored six points in the first quarter against the Raptors on Sunday. 
  • At the tail end of the fourth quarter, Paul Pierce threw down this authoritative slam over Joey Dorsey and Amir Johnson, and followed it up with a breakaway slam (that resulted in a slightly sprained right ankle) a few minutes later. Will he have any more theatrics for the home crowd tonight? 
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