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Celtics Host Raptors in Divisional Showdown

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Friday, November 27, 2009
7:30pm
TV: Comcast SportsNet; Radio: 850 AM WEEI
Venue: TD Garden
The Boston Celtics look to continue their winning ways tonight when they host the Toronto Raptors at the TD Garden at 7:30pm.
The close calls for the Celtics continued on Wednesday night when they barely managed to outlast a depleted Philadelphia 76ers squad by a score of 113-110 behind 27 points, six rebounds and six assists from Paul Pierce.
The Raptors enter the Garden fresh off a rather putrid performance against the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night in which they lost by 35 points (116-81).
Two statistics support the Celtics in this game tonight. First, the Raptors sport a rather dismal 2-7 road record and second, the Celtics are 4-0 against Atlantic Division opponents this season. The Celtics would like to continue to build up a less than desirable 6-3 home record before they bid farewell to the Garden and embark on a four-game road trip beginning with Sunday's showdown in Miami against the Heat.
The Raptors added free agent swingman Hedo Turkoglu this offseason, but so far he's averaging just 13.7 points per game, which fails in comparison to the 16.8 mark he averaged for Orlando last year and the 19.5 average he posted two seasons ago. He is, however, sporting a .415 shooting clip from three-point nation, which has been his best over his past six seasons.

Kevin Garnett should have his hands full with Chris Bosh tonight, who's putting together another monster season, with averages of 25.4 points, 11.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, all while shooting 48.3 percent from the field.

Despite Turkoglu's low scoring numbers, Toronto still boasts a very potent front line, as Turkoglu and Bosh line up next to Andrea Bargnani, who's versatility along the perimeter will allow him to pull Kendrick Perkins out of the paint. If Bosh chooses to employ a similar tactic with Garnett as well, the lane could be forced open for some of Toronto's slashers.

Despite some speculation that Tony Allen would suit up for Wednesday night's tussle with Philadelphia, according to reports, he will be held out until Sunday's game down in South Beach.

Projected Starters:

Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Raptors: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani

Health Check: For the Celtics, forward Glen Davis (thumb) and guard Tony Allen (ankle) are both out.

For the Raptors, forward Reggie Evans (foot) is out, while forward Amir Johnson (knee) is listed as day-to-day.

Keep It In Mind: This is the Raptors' first divisional game of the season.

Who's Hot: For the Celtics, Paul Pierce scored 27 points on 10-15 shooting against the Sixers on Wednesday.

For the Raptors, Andrea Bargnani put in 15 points against the Bobcats on 6-12 shooting, including a 2-3 performance from three-point nation.

Who's Not: For the Celtics, Rasheed Wallace continued his tough shooting stretch against the Sixers on Wednesday, by going 2-7 from the field and 2-6 from three-point land.

For the Raptors, Hedo Turkoglu was also just 2-7 against the Bobcats on Wednesday and finished the game with a season-low five points.

Key Matchup: Kevin Garnett vs. Chris Bosh

Honorable Mention: Paul Pierce vs. Hedo Turkoglu and Kendrick Perkins vs. Andrea Bargnani

Skinny: The battle along the front line will headline this showdown tonight, as Toronto comes into tonight's game averaging three more rebounds than the Celtics as a team. Keeping Bosh off the boards will be one of Garnett's primary responsibilities tonight.

The Celtics will also be up against another high-powered offense, as the Raptors are averaging over 105 points per game this season, but are also allowing opponents to score 108 points against them. The Celtics should be used to such trends by now, as New York and Philadelphia boast similar points scored/allowed numbers to the Raptors. Toronto will rely heavily on the three-point line and so far this season the Raps are knocking down just under 40 percent of all their three-point attempts. Over the past four games, opponents are shooting 44.8 percent from three-point territory against Boston. It should come as no surprise, but defense and rebounding will be Boston's keys to victory tonight.