In the midst of a four-game winning streak, the Celtics return home from a Sunday evening victory in Detroit to take on division rival Toronto Raptors at the TD BankNorth Garden tonight.
This Raptor team is a bit different from when we last saw them in January. The two-man point guard rotation of Jose Calderon and T.J. Ford is no longer, as Ford was packaged and shipped to Indiana this past summer in exchange for Jermaine O'Neal, who joins Chris Bosh in Sam Mitchell's starting frontcourt. While O'Neal looks as though he is still working to get his legs under him, the thought of a healthy "JO" along side Bosh is quite scary to most Eastern Conference opponents.
The roster contains a few new faces, but the style of play remains the same. Toronto continues to obliterate opposing defenses with their dead-eye shooting, as they once again sit amongst the league leaders in field goal percentage, three-point shooting, and free throw efficiency. Also similar to last year, this team moves the ball with the best of them and constantly displays a team-first attitude as opposed to the popular one-on-one style that many teams and individuals have adopted in today's game.
Boston owned the regular season series against Toronto 3-1 last season; let's keep it going, green.
PG SG SF PF C
PPG: Chris Bosh (26.7)
RPG: Chris Bosh (11.0)
APG: Jose Calderon (9.3)
SPG: Anthony Parker (1.7)
BPG: Bargnani/O'Neal (1.8)
Raptors X-Factor: Rebounding
Toronto is currently the worst rebounding team in the NBA with just 36.3 rebounds per game. If they are going to have a chance at taking down the defending champions - who are currently pulling down 45.7 RPG - on their home floor, they're going to have to impose their will on the glass and win the rebounding column.
PG SG SF PF C
PPG: Paul Pierce (16.3)
RPG: Kevin Garnett (10.0)
APG: Rajon Rondo (6.7)
SPG: Rajon Rondo (1.7)
BPG: Kendrick Perkins (2.7)
Celtics X-Factor: Close Out
Typically, the first thing that pops into a discussion about the Boston Celtics is their defensive pressure and timely rotations. While defense is this team's calling card, it is imperative that the Celtics close out on shooters against Toronto this evening. The Raptors are perhaps the best shooting team in the NBA, and constantly displays some of the best spacing the league has to offer. Whether the likes of Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, Jason Kapono, and Anthony Parker are ripping the core from beyond the arc or the frontcourt duo of Chris Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal are knocking down jumpers from mid-range, this Raptors team has the ability to kill you with their shooting on any given night.
The C's need to make sure Toronto doesn't shoot as well as they did in last season's January 23 matchup at the Garden, where the Raptors hit 15 of 21 from beyond the arc and beat the Celtics 114-112. Carlos Delfino is no longer with the club, but Sam Mitchell certainly still has plenty of weapons to place in the corners.
|2008 - Chris Bosh||26.7||11.0||2.5|
|2008 - Kevin Garnett||14.6||10.0||1.4|
These two are perhaps two of the most versatile four-men in the NBA, as each have the abilities to shoot the ball, put it on the floor, work in the post, impose their will on the glass, pass out of double-teams, run the floor, and defend the post. Bosh and Garnett are very similar, both in skill set and body type, and typically go at each other for terrific battles.
Keys to Victory
- Limit Turnovers
- Close Out
- Own the Glass
- First Unit "Oomph"