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Celtics return home to host the red hot division rival Raptors

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The Celtics return home from their 3 game road trip to host division rival Toronto Raptors for the first of four meetings this season.

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

at
Toronto Raptors (15-7) at Boston Celtics (13-9)
Friday, December 9, 2016
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #23 Home Game #10
TV: CSNNE, Sportsnet One, NBA-LP 754(DTV), 753(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, TSN Radio 1050
TD Garden

Referees: Derrick Stafford, Mitchell Ervin, Pat Fraher

The Celtics return home from their 3 game road trip to host division rival Toronto Raptors for the first of four meetings this season. The Raptors won the series 3-1 last season. These two teams are expected to battle for the Atlantic Division title as well as the second spot in the East. Currently, the Raptors are 2nd in the East and 2 games ahead of the Celtics.

The Celtics last played on Wednesday when they beat the Orlando Magic to complete their
road trip 2-1. The Raptors are playing in the second of back to back games. The finished an 8 game home stand with a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. They are 2-2 on the second night of back to back games. The Raptors have won 7 of their last 8 games.

Both teams are 7-3 in their last 10 games. The Raptors are 6-3 on the road while the Celtics are 5-4 at home. Both teams are undefeated in division play. The Celtics are 4-0 against Atlantic division teams while the Raptors are 2-0 against Atlantic division teams.

The Celtics will once again be without leading scorer Isaiah Thomas who is still out with a strained goin muscle. Marcus Smart is expected to start once again in his place. The Raptors will be without former Celtic Jared Sullinger who is out with a foot injury. Delon Wright is also out with a shoulder injury.



Probable Starters

Marcus Smart...Avery Bradley...Jae Crowder ...Al Horford...Amir Johnson

Celtics Reserves

Jaylen Brown
Gerald Green
Terry Rozier
James Young
Jonas Jerebko
Tyler Zeller
Kelly Olynyk
Demetrius Jackson
Jordan Mickey

Injuries
Isaiah Thomas (groin) out

Head Coach
Brad Stevens


Probable Starters

Kyle Lowry...DeMar DeRozan...DeMarre Carroll...Pascal Siakam...Jonas Valanciunas

Raptors Reserves
Bruno Caboclo
Cory Joseph
Lucas Nogueira
Patrick Patterson
Jakob Poeltl
Norman Powell
Terrence Ross
Fred VanVleet

Injuries
Jared Sullinger (foot) out
Delon Wright (shoulder) out

Head Coach

Dwayne Casey

Key Matchups
vs
Marcus Smart vs Kyle Lowry
Lowry has given the Celtics problems in the past and he is playing very well so far this year, averaging 20.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Marcus might not be able to score like Isaiah, but he should be able to slow Lowry down somewhat.

vs
Avery Bradley vs DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan is Toronto's leading scorer and is going to be a tough cover. He is averaging 28 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Avery did a good job of slowing down Orlando's leading scorer and hopefully he can do it once again in this game and keep DeRozan from going off against the Celtics. It's important for the Celtics to slow down both of Toronto's high scoring back court players.

Honorable Mention
Bench vs Bench
The Celtics got a big game from their young guns off the bench against the Magic and they will need another big game from their reserves in this game. Over their past 10 games, the Raptors' bench ranks 3rd in the league, shooting 49.5% from the field and they are 1st with 49.1% 3 point percentage. The Celtics reserves will not only have to play well on the offensive end, but they will be counted on to slow down the Raptors' hot shooting players off the bench.

Keys to the Game
Defense

Defense has always been and always will be the key to winning. The Celtics finally showed the tough defense that we came to expect from them last season in the game against the Magic. Hopefully they will keep that defensive mindset in this game as well. 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, averaging 110.9 points per game. The Celtics will need to bring their defensive intensity in order to get a win in this game.

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. We finally saw that aggressiveness against the Magic and hopefully they will bring it to this game also.

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 are 7-0 when they grab 49% of the available rebounds.

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, their offense gets sluggish so they need to run throughout the game. They also have to move the ball and find the open man. The Celtics need to keep the ball moving and not lapse into hero ball.

X-Factors
Fatigue Factor
- For the second game in a row, the Celtics have an opponent on the second night of back to back games. This time, their opponent also had to travel after the game. The Celtics need to run and keep the pace up and fatigue may come into play by the end of the game.

Home Court Factor - Although the Raptors are a good road team, the Celtics need to take advantage of being at home. They should feed off of the home crowd's energy. Also, the Raptors have just finished a six game homestand and they haven't played on the road for awhile.

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.