Toronto Raptors (3-1) at Boston Celtics (1-2)
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #4, Home Game #2
TV: CSNNE, NBA-LP 755(xfinity), 754 (DTV)
Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub, Sportsnet 590
Referees: Bill Kennedy, Leroy Richardson, Justin Van Duyne
The Celtics will take on the Toronto Raptors for the 3rd time this season already. The Raptors have already beaten the Celtics twice in the preseason and this will be their first regular season game. They will face off 3 more times this season.
The Celtics have had one day off after coming close to an epic comeback from 31 points down against the Dallas Mavericks Monday night. They closed the gap to one point late in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t pull out the win. The Raptors are playing in the second of back to back games after a 12 point win over the OKC Thunder on Monday night. They are also at the end of a 4 games in 5 nights stretch.
Rondo will face the Raptors for the first time in this game, having missed both preseason games with the hand injury. We may see more of the Celtics 3 guard lineup in this one with the Raptors starting bigs hurting. The Raptors starting power forward Amir Johnson missed Monday night's game and is expected to miss this game If he can't go, expect Patrick Patterson to fill his spot in the starting lineup.
Starting center, Jonas Valanciunas, is listed as probable for the game, but is hurting. He already had a bruised face going into playing the Thunder last night and left the game with a broken nose courtesy of a flagrant 2 foul from former Celtic Sebastian Telfair. If Valanciunas can't play, former Celtic Greg Stiemsma will probably get the start and will see more minutes at that spot.
Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk
Vitor Faverani (knee) out
Kyle Lowry, Demar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, Patrick Patterson, Jonas Valanciunas
Amir Johnson (ankle) questionable
Rajon Rondo vs Kyle Lowry
Lowry pretty much had his way with the Celtics in their first preseason matchup with 18 points, 6 assists, and 5 steals. He was off to a good start in the second game but left the game with a minor injury. He is averaging 15.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists this season and it will be up to Rondo to keep him from having a big game in this one.
Avery Bradley vs DeMar DeRozan
Avery will have his hands full with DeRozan, who is the Raptors' leading scorer, averaging 23.7 points per game. We saw in the second half of the game vs the Mavs that Bradley's defense fuels his offense. Let's hope that having to play tough defense on DeRozan will fuel another offensive burst from the Celtics shooting guard.
Keys to the Game
Pace and Space
The Celtics have to run the court and move the ball. That will be the foundation of their success this season. They have to set the pace of the game and they must continue to move the ball and find the open man.
Defense has always been and always will be the key to winning. It was the Celtics defense that fueled the comeback against the Mavericks. When they play tough defense it also fuels their offense. The Raptors are averaging almost 105 points per game and so the Celtics will need to come out strong defensively if they want to win this one.
The Celtics have started two games in a row very slowly. They showed very little aggressiveness and ended up in a hole in both games. But, in the second half of the game, they woke up and were aggressive on defense, in going after loose balls, in crashing the boards, and just all around going all out. They need to start the game with that same aggressive attitude.
The Celtics must crash the boards. They can't score if they don't have the ball. Much of rebounding is effort and desire. The Celtics have to be the team that puts out more effort from every player to go after rebounds. Rajon Rondo is the Celtics' leading rebounder at 8.7 RPG. The bigs must step up and crash the boards. If a 6'1" point guard can grab almost 9 rebounds per game, the front line should be able to do more.
Fatigue and EffortThe Raptors are playing in back to back games and in their 4th game in 5 nights. Fatigue could come into play down the stretch in this one. The Celtics have an opportunity to get a win against a division rival, but it will depend on which team shows up: the first or second half team. They have to bring extra effort from opening tip until the final buzzer.
"[Kennedy] stood there and goaded me and goaded me and goaded me and stared at me," Rivers said. "Look at the film. I actually walked away. He asked me, 'Where do you want the ball?' And I said, 'Ask them,' talking about our players. That's my right to say that, and I walked away. He stood there and stared me down and stared me down and goaded me until I turned around and said, 'What?' That's when I got thrown out of the game."