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Shorthanded Raptors Look to End Streak

(10-9) tor.gif @ (15-2)


Friday, December 7
7:30 PM ET
TD BankNorth Garden

Chat  |  Game Thread

The last time the Celtics and Raptors met, Ray Allen crushed the hearts of the fans in the Air Canada Centre with a game-winning three-point shot in overtime. Predicting overtime in this one may be a bit extreme, however, as both Chris Bosh (groin) and Andrea Bargnani (knee) are nursing injuries and did not even make the trip to Boston. This will be Bosh’s fifth straight missed game, and Bargnani’s fourth. T.J. Ford has also only played in three of Toronto’s last eight games, and in those three has only averaged around 18 minutes per game. On Wednesday, however, Ford didn’t show many signs of pain, as he went for 27 points in 24 minutes off the bench in Toronto’s 136-123 loss to Phoenix.

While Ford has been out, Jose Calderon has done a superb job running the club, and has consistently produced for his team. In the last 10 games, Calderon has held averages of 11.5 points and 9.5 assists per game while shooting the ball just under 50% from the floor. There aren’t too many people who will tell you that Calderon isn’t the best backup point guard in the NBA, and there is no question that he can produce in a big way if given the keys to the car. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with him via free agency this summer.

The Celtics, on the other hand, have sparked a brand spankin’ new winning streak. After losing a tough one out in Cleveland last Tuesday, but C’s have picked up four straight wins, including two on the road. The story of the last win in Philadelphia was not the "big three," although Paul Pierce did have one of his better games with 19 points and 12 assists, it was the play of the second unit. Boston’s bench tallied 46 points on Wednesday, including 17 from James Posey and 13 from Eddie House. The most promising part of that, however, was Tony Allen, who perhaps had his best half of basketball this season. He was active, he skied for rebounds, he made some big buckets off penetration, he brought a great deal of energy (which was needed at the time), and he played solid defense. If we can get more of that from Tony Allen on a semi-consistent basis before the All-Star break, there won’t be too many people trashing the supporting cast anymore.

Without two of their top three most talented players in uniform, Toronto may have a tough time competing with the Boston Celtics. At the same time, however, they can’t be taken lightly. They have great shooters from top to bottom, energy guys, and two terrific point guards in T.J. Ford and Jose Calderon running the show. They may be without their star, but they can still give opposing teams some problems if they are slept on.

Can the C’s make it five in a row? Let’s hope so, and let’s hope the lead is safe enough to rest the big guns near the end of the game, as the team will play in Chicago tomorrow night against the hungry Bulls.

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Projected Starters

C Rasho Nesterovic / Kendrick Perkins
PF Jamario Moon / Kevin Garnett
SF Joey Graham / Paul Pierce
SG Anthony Parker / Ray Allen
PG Jose Calderon / Rajon Rondo


Key Matchup: T.J. Ford vs. Rajon Rondo

These two have had some great matchups, going back to 2007 preseason. Rondo has gotten the upper-hand in more matchups than not, but Ford certainly had his number on November 4 this year. Rondo did not defend Ford correctly, as he almost tried to force him one way, but at the same time gave him an open lane to the basket. Let’s hope Rondo can come out on top in this one, because without Toronto’s star in the house, you better believe Ford will try to take over more than usual.


Celtics X-Factor: Energy

Usually, the X-Factor is dedicated to a certain player for that specific game, but tonight it is focused on the entire team’s effort. Sure, Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani are not in uniform, but you still have to outwork them. Wednesday’s game in Philadelphia was a classic example of a lesser team outworking a big gun, and they had Boston’s number until the fourth quarter. The C’s can’t walk through this one, especially against a division rival. They need to come out with a lot of energy right out of the gate and let Toronto know that they mean business.


Injury Report

TOR Chris Bosh (groin)
TOR – Andrea Bargnani (knee)


Celtics Keys to the Game

  • Energy
  • Ball Movement
  • Cut Off Penetration
  • Make Good Perimeter Rotations
  • Limit Turnovers

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