Toronto Raptors (1-0) at Boston Celtics (1-0)
Friday, October 30, 2015
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #2 Home Game #2
TV: CSNNE, Sportsnet One, NBA-LP 754(DTV), 753(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, TSN Radio 1050
Referees: Mike Callahan, Tyler Ford, Eric Lewis
The Celtics host the Raptors as the two teams most likely to fight for the Atlantic division crown meet for the first time this season. These two teams split the series last season with the Raptors winning the first two games and the Celtics winning the last two games.
The Raptors have the kind of continuity that the Celtics can only hope for. Three of their starters have been together in Toronto's starting lineup for the past 4 seasons. This season they have added Demarre Carroll and Luis Scola to finish out the starting five. They will be a good test for where the Celtics are at this point of the season.
Four of the last five games between these two teams have been decided by 3 points or less. Toronto and Boston have combined for 8 of the last 9 Atlantic Division titles and are the two favorites to fight for the division title this season also.
Amir Johnson will be facing the team that he has played for over the last 6 seasons and should be able to give the Celtics a good scouting report on the Raptors' plays. Canadian Kelly Olynyk will be back in the Celtics rotation after missing the first game due to suspension. RJ Hunter practiced on Thursday and is expected to be available for this game. For the Raptors, DeMarre Carroll suffered an elbow contusion in Wednesday's game against the Pacers and is day to day. Lucas Nogueira is day to day with a hamstring injury.
Marcus Smart...Avery Bradley...Jae Crowder ...David Lee...Tyler Zeller
RJ Hunter (illness) probable
Kyle Lowry...DeMar DeRozan...Demarre Carrol...Luis Scola...Jonas Valanciunas
Demarre Carroll (elbow) day to day
Lucas Nogueira (hamstring) day to day
Marcus Smart vs Kyle Lowry
Lowry has given the Celtics problems in the past and he has started the season off strong with 23 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals in the Raptors first game against the Pacers. Smart will need to play his trademark defense to slow him down.
Avery Bradley vs DeMarr DeRozan
DeRozan is Toronto's leading scorer and is going to be a tough cover. He put up big numbers in his first game with 25 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. But if anyone can slow him down, it is the Celtics tough defensive back court.
Tyler Zeller vs Jonas Valanciunas
Valanciunas may be coming into his own this season, starting out with a strong performance against the Pacers with 21 points, 15 rebounds and 1 block. Zeller struggled against Okafor in the Celtics opening night game and may struggle against Valanciunas. Perhaps his former teammate Amir Johnson or Jared Sullinger could step in and take over if he does.
Jae Crowder's Hair vs DeMarre Carroll's Hair
Keys to the Game
Defense has always been and always will be the key to winning. The Celtics are building their identity this season on defense and have one of the toughest defensive trios in the league. They need to play particularly tough defense against the Raptors since they are capable of putting up a lot of points in a hurry.
The Celtics must be aggressive on defense, in going after loose balls, in crashing the boards, and just all around going all out. They have to aggressively attack the basket. They need to start the game with that aggressive attitude and be aggressive through the whole game with no let up. The more aggressive team will usually get the benefit of the doubt from the refs as well.
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. The Raptors pulled down 50 rebounds against the Pacers and the Celtics have to be the team that wins the battle of the boards.
Run and Move the Ball
The Celtics need to run on every possession and get up the court before the defenses get set up. When the Celtics slow down, they don't play very well and so they need to run throughout the game. They also have to move the ball and find the open man. With just a one game sample size, the Raptors are first in the league with a pace of 106.9 while the Celtics are 12th at 103.5. The Celtics have to use their depth and run, run, run!
The Canadian Factor
Amir Johnson should give the Celtics a bit of an in when it comes to the Raptors game plan. Players always love to beat their former teams and hopefully Amir will give an extra effort to do so in this one. Also, Kelly Olynyk usually plays very well against the Raptors (averaging 15+ points last season against them) and hopefully he is raring to go after missing the first game.
The Celtics' bench outscored the Sixers bench 67-15 in their first game. Granted that the Raptors' bench is much better than Philly's bench, but the Celtics depth and second and third units playing well will be a key to winning many games this season.
Callahan is one of 4 refs to come out of Cardinal O'Hara High School in Pennsylvania. The other 3 are Joey Crawford, Ed Malloy and Tim Donaghy. Callahan was one of the referees mentioned in an incident in Tim Donaghy's book. He and other refs would regularly wager with their fellow refs over things like who would call the first foul, who could give out the first tech, etc. Makes you wonder what game they might be playing tonight.
As with most refs, Callahan can be good or he can be very, very bad. He usually lets the teams play and isn't a tyrant with the whistle but still makes some head scratching calls from time to time. His home W/L record this season is 0-1.
This is Ford's first full season in the NBA as a referee. Last season he officiated 10 games, none of which were with the Celtics. Sometimes young referees can be intimidated by the home crowd and sometimes they try to prove that they can't be intimidated and call everything against the home team. He's a blank slate at this point but I'm sure we will get to know him very quickly. His home W/L record this season is 0-1.
Lewis has spent the last 11 seasons in the NBA, officiating 618 regular season games and 14 playoff games. Lewis spent two years working in the USBL, officiating the Finals in 2002 and 2004. Prior to that he spent three seasons in the NBA D-League, where he worked the 2003 and 2004 Playoffs and 2004 Finals. He tallied eight years in the college ranks, participating in the Atlantic Sun, Ohio Valley, Sunshine State, Florida Sun and Mid-Florida conferences. Lewis officiated in Florida high schools for six years.
With the exception of a Cavs game that was called pretty much one sided, and the Hawks game last season that was also called one sided toward the Hawks down the stretch, Lewis has been pretty good in calling the Celtics games. His home W/L record is 0-1.