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Banged Up Celtics Take on the Ailing Raptors

Saturday, January 2nd, 7:30 EST
TV: CSN HD, TSN 2, LP 758
Venue: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Game 32, Home Game 15, (one game home stand before another 3 game road trip)

The Celtics and Raptors are both missing several key players tonight. The Captain, Paul Pierce, is out still from his knee surgery. The heart and soul of their defense, Kevin Garnett, is resting a variety of ailments and will not suit up. Finally the player that makes this team "go" whether on the fast break or with his disruptive defense, Rajon Rondo, is resting his hamstring and will not play.

The Celtics are without their number one, two, and three guys this game. (in whatever order you prefer KG/Pierce/Rondo is my own) In their place we have Tony Allen, Rasheed Wallace, and J. R. Giddens starting tonight. This leaves the Celtics with several challenges in running their sets and defending the Raptors in tonight’s game. The first of which is that their starting lineup will have 3 natural shooting guards and the second of which is that Rasheed Wallace is going to have to guard Chris Bosh for an extended amount of the game. This is not the recipe for the Celtics to break out of there three game losing streak.

The Raptors have a streak of their own going as winners of five straight contests over New Jersey, New Orleans, Detroit (twice), and Charlotte. Not the best of opponents, but a five game win streak still means that they are playing well. This Raptors team is fourth the league in offensive efficiency at 108.8 points per 100 possessions and the C's will struggle to keep up with them.

I anticipate that the Celtics are going to be running a lot of plays for Ray Allen, attempting to post Rasheed and Perkins early and often, and finally I think Eddie House is going to be asked to provide a lot of scoring off the bench.

Projected Starters:

Raptors: PG: Jarrett Jack SG: DeMar DeRozan SF: Antoine Wright PF: Chris Bosh C: Andrea Bargnani

Celtics: PG: Tony Allen SG: Ray Allen SF: J.R. Giddens PF: Rasheed Wallace C: Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Both teams are missing several starters; the Celtics will be without Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett. The Celtics are also still without the services of Marquis Daniels. In the one bit of good news on the injury front Glen "Big Baby" Davis will make his return from an ankle injury he sustained against the Golden State Warriors a few nights ago.

The Raptors will be without Jose Calderon and Hedo Turkoglu.

Key Matchup: Chris Bosh vs. Rasheed Wallace

The Celtics will need an inspired effort against the Raptors all-star PF to stay in the game without three of their four best players.

My Final Take: I think with Tony Allen playing the point and J.R. getting serious burn the C's are going to end up with a four game losing streak. TOR 110 BOS 95