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3 Questions: Celtics host Raptors with .500 on the line

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Boston is trying to avoid going .500 on the season, while the Raptors try to reach that same mark for the first time

Boston Celtics v Toronto Raptors Photo by Scott Audette/NBAE via Getty Images

The Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors will meet in their second head-to-head of the season. The first time around, Boston beat Toronto in Tampa, Florida (the Raptors temporary home) by a 126-114 margin. The Celtics got out to a big lead and then held off a late Raptors run for the win. Now, Toronto is on the upswing, as they are just a game from evening their record at .500. Boston is on a bit of a downswing, as they are just one game above .500. It should be another great game, as these two teams often produce classic contests.

1. Can Boston win the three-point shooting battle again?

When the Celtics beat the Raptors in their first matchup this season, Boston was able to outshoot Toronto from behind the arc. The Raps take and make the third-most three-pointers in the league and they shoot the fifth-best percentage. Fred VanVleet has been Toronto’s most prolific bomber, but he’s joined by many others. Every Raptors rotation player outside of Pascal Siakam and old friend Aron Baynes has a solid percentage from behind the arc.

The Celtics need to do what they can to limit attempts while also challenging shooters. That’s a task made more difficult with Marcus Smart’s absence. Look for some smaller lineups tonight, with a focus on defending the perimeter.

2. Can the Celtics keep the turnovers down?

The Raptors force the most turnovers per game. That a big part of how Toronto holds opponents to the fewest field goal attempts per game, despite playing at a faster-than-average pace. Boston is middle of the pack in turnovers, but has had some games with upwards of 20 giveaways this season.

If the Celtics can keep the ball in their possession, they’ll get good shots and have a good chance at getting to the free throw line. Toronto fouls a lot, because they play an aggressive style of defense. It’s up to Boston to take advantage of this and steal some easy offense.

3. Will Boston dominate the bench matchup again?

In the first game, the Celtics reserves were terrific. They combined for 60 of Boston’s 126 points, including double-figures from Payton Pritchard (23), Grant Williams (14), Semi Ojeleye (12) and Robert Williams (11).

Jayson Tatum dominated the Raptors with 40 points on 11-of-19 shooting and 13-of-13 from the line. If the Celtics bench can step up again, they’ll be in good shape to get another win and avoid falling to .500 on the season.