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Celtics complete road trip with a visit to the Toronto Raptors

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Amir Johnson and the Celtics finish their road trip with a visit to the division rival Toronto Raptors.

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

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Boston Celtics (22-20) at Toronto Raptors (26-15)
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Regular Season Game #43, Road Game #22
TV: CSNNE, TSN1/4 NBA-LP 758(DTV), 755(Xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, TSN Radio 1050
Air Canada Centre

Referees: Jason Phillips, Tony Brown, Kevin Scott

The Celtics complete their 3 game road trip with a stop in Toronto. The Celtics are 1-1 on the trip so far with a win in DC and a loss in Dallas. This is the second of 4 games between these two division rivals this season. They will meet on 3/18 in Toronto and on 3/23 in Boston to complete the series.

Just as a couple Celtics had ties in Dallas, a couple Celtics have ties with the Raptors. Amir Johnson played for 6 seasons in Toronto and was a fan favorite there. He will be returning to Toronto for the first time since signing with the Celtics in free agency. Kelly Olynyk was born in Toronto and moved to Kamloops, BC in the 7th grade. His mom worked for the Raptors for several years.

The Raptors have their last 5 games and are looking for their first 6 game win streak of the season with a win in this one. The Celtics had their 3 game win streak broken with the loss in Dallas and are looking to begin another win streak before returning home to face the Bulls on Friday. Boston has lost 4 of their last 5 on the road while Toronto has won 8 of their last 10 at home. The Celtics are 11-10 on the road while the Raptors are 12-6 at home.

The Raptors are in the second spot in the East and lead the Atlantic Division. The Celtics are still in 8th and trail the Raptors by 4.5 games. The Celtics are 1/2 game behind Detroit for 7th place and 1 game ahead of Orlando, who are in 9th. Every game is important and will impact the standings in the East.

The Celtics are healthy for the most part. Jordan Mickey was recalled from Maine to have treatment on an ankle injury but since he doesn't get to play, that probably won't affect anything in this game. For the Raptors, their former starting small forward, Demarre Carroll is out with a knee injury and James Johnson is starting in his place and filling in nicely.


Probable Starters

Isaiah Thomas...Avery Bradley...Jae Crowder ...Amir Johnson...Jared Sullinger

Celtics Reserves

Evan Turner
RJ Hunter
Jonas Jerebko
Tyler Zeller
Jordan Mickey
Terry Rozier
Marcus Smart
James Young
David Lee
Kelly Olynyk

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Injuries
None


Probable Starters

Kyle Lowry...DeMar DeRozan...James Johnson...Luis Scola...Jonas Valanciunas

Raptors Reserves
Bismack Biyombo
Patrick Patterson
Terrence Ross
Cory Joseph
Lucas Nogueira
Anthony Bennett
Norman Powell
Delon Wright
Bruno Caboclo

Head Coach

Dwane Casey

Injuries
Demarre Carroll (knee) out



Key Matchups
vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Kyle Lowry
Lowry has given the Celtics problems in the past and he is playing very well, averaging 22.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 2.3 steals per game. Part of the Celtics slow start in Dallas was due to their guards taking advantage of Isaiah's height and inability to guard them. If the Raptors do the same, expect to see Marcus Smart come in very quickly.

vs
Avery Bradley vs DeMarr DeRozan
DeRozan is Toronto's leading scorer and is going to be a tough cover. He is averaing 22.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.0 steals per game. But if anyone can slow him down, it is the Celtics tough defensive back court. Although he has averaged 28.5 points in his last 4 games against the Celtics.

Honorable Mention
Jared Sullinger vs Jonas Valanciunas
Valanciunas is averaging 12 points, 9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. He is capable of getting inside and altering shots, getting rebounds and tip ins. Sully has to try to push him out away from the basket.

Keys to the Game
Defense

Defense has always been and always will be the key to winning. The Celtics have one of the toughest defensive trios in the league in Smart, Bradley and Crowder. 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 Raptors are 4th in the league as they hold opponents to just 96.9 points. The Celtics have to match that defensive intensity.

Be Aggressive

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.

Rebound

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 Celtics have to put out extra effort to box out and grab rebounds on both ends of the court.

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. The Celtics have to use their depth and run. They also need to keep the ball moving and not lapse into hero ball.

X-Factors
The Offensive Factor - Sometimes the Celtics can't seem to hit a shot to save their lives. They miss 3 pointers, elbow shots, layups, shots from everywhere. I don't know if that's a focus factor or what it is. The Celtics have got to focus on taking good shots and not rushing their offense.

The Canadian Factor - With Kelly coming home to Toronto and hopefully having a cheering section there and with Amir returning to Toronto for the first time since leaving for the Celtics, perhaps they will be motivated to have big games. Or, they may be too excited to return and play terrible. It may go either way.

Continuity Factor - This Raptors team is mostly made up of veterans. Their starting five is basically the same group that has started almost every game for the past 2 seasons. They have great chemistry and it shows on the court. The Celtics are still basically new to each other and mostly a young bunch. They are working on finding chemistry but aren't where the Raptors are as far as working together. .

Officiating Factor - Officiating is always an x-factor. How the refs call the game has a big influence on how the teams play. Will they let them play or call every little bit of contact? Will they call it evenly or will they favor one team or the other. Will they be influenced by the home crowd or will they call it fairly for both teams? It all effects the outcome of the game.

Official Report
Jason Phillips

Jason Phillips has officiated 824 regular season games and 27 playoff games since joining the NBA officiating staff 13 seasons ago.In addition, Phillips has six seasons of experience officiating in the CBA, working the 1999 CBA Finals. He also officiated three seasons in the WNBA, working the 1999 WNBA Finals. Phillips spent five years officiating at the high school level in his home state of Texas. Phillips earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at Tarleton State. In addition, he played varsity basketball, golf and baseball while at Cisco High School in Texas.

The Celtics are 5-5 over their last 10 games with Phillips as a ref. This is his first game with the Celtics this season. The officiating was fairly even in most of the games last season. In the game in OKC the Celtics shot 20 free throws to 33 for the Thunder and there were more than a few questionable calls. It was Phillips that got Tommy to swear on the air last season in a game against Houston about the refs falling for all the blank blank flops. Phillips was the lead official for a game vs the Bulls where the Celtics shot 11 free throws to 40 for the Bulls. The officiating was terrible and one sided. Tommy described it this way, "This was an abomination. It wasn't even close to a decently officiated game." The Raptors are 1-1 this season and are 5-5 in their last 10 games with Phillips. He is a homer ref with a home W/L record this season of 24-6.

Tony Brown
Tony Brown has officiated 777 regular season games and eight- Playoff games in his first 13 seasons as an NBA official. Prior to joining the NBA, he officiated for four seasons in the NBA D-League and CBA and three seasons in the WNBA. During that time he worked the 2002 Finals, the 2002 WNBA All-Star Game and the 2001 CBA Finals. As with most refs, Brown has been good and bad in past games with the Celtics. In some the officiating is one sided and in others very good. Brown called Game 1 of the Rockets/Mavs playoff series and it was very one sided against the Mavs. The Rockets shot 45 free throws to 17 for the Mavs. Of course, he called the game with Joey Crawford and that could account for a lot of the controversial calls.

This season, in the loss in Dallas, the officiating was terrible. After they called 2 clean blocks by the Celtics fouls, Tommy yelled, "That's 2 strikes against them." Then after failing to call a Parsons elbow to Smart's head right in front of the ref, Tommy yelled "This is getting obnoxious." They were so bad they even got an "Oh, come on!" from Mike who rarely complains. Here are just a couple comments from among many from Mavs fans:

"Curious sequence there. Phantom foul on Bradley, Lee gets mugged - no call, and ticky tack foul on Lee"

"I'd be pissed if I was a Celtics fan at this officiating."

"I'll take the win but without the refs help, we lose this one."

Dallas shot 35 free throws to 24 for Boston. Brown calls 36.6 fouls per game with 44.4% called on the home team. He also called a game vs Chicago that was evenly called and the officials let both teams play. The Celtics are 1-1 this season and 6-4 over their last 10 games with Brown. The Raptors are also 1-1 this season and 6-4 over their last 10 games with Brown. His home W/L record this season is 14-13.

Kevin Scott
Kevin Scott enters his fifth NBA season having officiated 218 regular season games. Scott’s experience includes four seasons and 138 games officiated in the NBA D-League where he officiated the playoffs in 2009, 2010, and 2011 and was selected to work the NBA D-League Finals in 2011. Scott’s collegiate experience includes four years in the Southeastern Conference, 10 years in the Atlantic Sun Conference, six years in the Southern Conference, and seven years in the Big South Conference. Scott has also been mostly good in the games he has called for the Celtics. The Celtics are 1-1 this season and 1-9 over their last 10 games with Scott. The Raptors are 1-1 this season and 5-5 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 17-12.