Celtics look to play spoiler as they host the Raptors

Jared Wickerham

The Celtics host the division leading Raptors for the 3rd of 4 meetings this season.

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Toronto Raptors (39-31) at Boston Celtics (23-47)
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #71, Home Game #37
TV: CSNNE, Sportsnet One, NBA-LP 755(DTV), 754(Xfinity)
Radio: WBZ, Fan 890
TD Garden
Referees: Joey Crawford, Dick Bavetta, Courtney Kirkland

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The Celtics host the division leading Raptors for the 3rd of 4 meetings this season. The series is tied 1-1 coming into this with each team winning one on their home court so far. They will meet for the 4th and final time on Friday in Toronto.

The Raptors are playing in the second of back to back games on the road. They played in Cleveland on Tuesday night and lost that game by 2 points. They lead Brooklyn for the Atlantic Division by 1.5 games. They currently are the 4th seed and are 1/2 game behind the Bulls for the 3rd seed.

The Celtics are 5th from the bottom of the league for the lottery. They are 1/2 game behind Utah for the 4th pick and 1.5 games ahead of the Lakers, who are in the 6th spot. Both the Celtics and the Raptors lost their last game and are looking to get back into the winning column.


The Raptors are fighting for their playoff seeding but have lost 4 of their last 6 games. The Celtics can play spoilers for the Raptors and help their old friend Paul Pierce by winning the next two games to help Brooklyn overtake the Raptors for the Atlantic Division. The Celtics have lost 6 of their last 7 games, but they are very capable of playing spoiler and winning both games.

The Celtics have been off since playing the Nets on Friday. They had a rare 2 days of rest and even rarer, they had 2 days of practice. They should be rested and ready to play when this game tips off. The Celtics are 3-7 in their last 10 games while the Nets are 5-5 in their last 10.



Probable Starters

Rajon Rondo...Avery Bradley...Jeff Green...Brandon Bass...Kris Humphries

Celtics Reserves

Joel Anthony
Chris Johnson
Phil Pressey
Chris Babb
Jared Sullinger
Kelly Olynyk
Jerryd Bayless

Injuries
Keith Bogans (personal) out
Vitor Faverani (knee) out
Gerald Wallace (knee) out



Probable Starters

Kyle Lowry...DeMar DeRozan...Terrence Ross...Amir Johnson...Jonas Valanciunas

Raptors Reserves
Tyler Hansbrough
John Salmons
Chuck Hayes
Greivis Vasquez
Landry Fields
Steve Novak
Austin Daye
Julyan Stone
Dwight Buycks

Injuries
Patrick Patterson (Ulna) out


Key Matchups

vs
Avery Bradley vs DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan is a threat on the offensive end, averaging 22.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game. Avery's defense will be needed to keep DeRozan from putting up big numbers in this one.

vs
Rajon Rondo vs Kyle Lowry
Lowry is playing very well for the Raptors and is averaging 17.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 7.8 assists, and 1.6 steals per game this season. This is Rondo's first game vs the Raptors. In their last meeting, Lowry scored 18 points with 12 assists matched up against Jordan Crawford.

Keys to the Game
Consistent Effort- The Celtics must win by being the team that plays harder. They have been playing hard but have lapses during the game. They have to find a way to play hard for 4 quarters and not just 2 or 3.

Rebound - The Celtics must crash the boards to prevent the Raptors from getting extra chances and fast breaks. By crashing the boards, they also give themselves a chance for extra possessions. In their win vs the Raptors in the last game, the Celtics out rebounded Toronto 58-44, including 19-13 on the offensive glass. Their 19 offensive rebounds allowed them to score 25 second chance points. The Celtics must crash the boards once again.

Get Into the Paint - The Celtics can't depend on their jumpers alone. They have to take the ball to the hoop and win the war in the paint.

Defense - The Raptors are a good shooting team and so the Celtics must play team defense to keep them from having a high scoring game. The Celtics must commit to play tough defense if they want to win this game.

X-Factors

Pride vs Position, and Fatigue
The Celtics are playing for pride while the Raptors are playing for playoff position. Which motivation will be stronger?
The Celtics have been off since Friday while the Raptors are playing in back to back games along with having to travel. Will the Celtics be rusty or will the Raptors run out of gas?


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