The Celtics visit the Raptors for the final preseason game for both teams. The Celtics will start the regular season on Tuesday at home against the 76ers while the Raptors will start the regular season on Wednesday at home against the Cavaliers. This is the second meeting for these two teams in this preseason. The Raptors beat the Celtics 125-119 in overtime in the first meeting.
The Celtics held out their starters for their last game but I think they will likely play a regular rotation in this one to prepare for opening night. However, they may choose to sit the starters once again to be sure to avoid injuries. I’ve included the regular starters for both teams but either team may choose to sit some or all of their starters for some or all of the game.
Also, with Luke Kornet back from injury, Joe Mazzulla may choose to start the double big lineup with Al Horford and Luke Kornet and move Derrick White back to the bench. Before his injury, Kornet was practicing with the starters and it was assumed that he would start in place of Robert Williams while he was out. So, that’s a possibility also. If the Raptors continue to go small, the Celtics likely will also.
Robert Williams remains out as he rehabs from knee surgery. He is expected to be out until possibly December. Danilo Gallinari will miss most or all of the season with a torn ACL. For the Raptors, Chris Boucher (hamstring), Malachi Flynn (face) and Otto Porter, Jr. (hamstring) all are listed as out for this game.
Probable Celtics Starters
JD Davison (2 Way)
Mfiondu Kabengele (2 Way)
Danilo Gallinari (ACL) out
Robert Williams III (knee) out
Probable Raptors Starters
Jeff Dowtin (2 Way)
Ron Harper, Jr (2 Way)
Chris Boucher (hamstring) out
Malachi Flynn (face) out
Otto Porter, Jr, (hamstring) out
Marcus Smart vs Fred VanVleet
VanVleet is always a threat to score and Marcus Smart needs to stay with him defensively, especially on the perimeter. VanVleet had 7 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists in the first game between these two teams.
Jaylen Brown vs Scottie Barnes
Scottie Barnes is the reigning Rookie of the Year and the Raptors are expecting him to take a leap in his development this season. He finished the last game between these two teams with 8 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 block. This should be a fun matchup to watch.
Al Horford vs Pascal Siakam
Siakam has been one of Toronto’s best players over the last few years and is likely to have another good season again. In the first game against the Celtics, he finished with 13 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is always a key to winning every single game. The Celtics have looked solid on defense so far in the preseason and hopefully we see another solid defensive effort in this game. The Celtics must be aggressive on defense and make playing team defense a priority in this game and in every game.
Rebound - Rebounding is also a key to winning every game. Much of rebounding is effort and hustle. The Celtics have to put out extra effort on the boards to prevent the Raptors from getting second chance points and extra possessions and to give themselves extra opportunities to score. The Raptors are a good rebounding team and the Celtics will need to work harder on the boards, especially on defensive rebounds, if they are going to win this game.
Pace and Teamwork - The Celtics played with great pace so far in the preseason. They need to run on every possession and move the ball without a lot of iso play and without a lot of dribbling around once again in this game. They are most effective when they keep the ball moving and also move without the ball.
Take Care of the Ball - They can’t afford to give the ball away if they want to give themselves a chance to win this game. Turnovers were a problem for the team last season and in the first game this season and hopefully they can find a way to solve that problem and limit their turnovers.
Preseason - It’s the preseason and both teams are still working on lineups and chemistry and conditioning. We may see limited minutes for the starters, or even starters sitting out for the game. We may see some creative lineups as both coaches look to evaluate the camp players for remaining roster spots. It may not be very pretty basketball, but then again, the Celtics may put together another good game, even with the camp players getting solid minutes.
On The Road - The Celtics had to travel to Montreal for this game and so may be bothered by travel and staying in a hotel and playing on a strange court and in front of hostile fans. Hopefully they can get past all these distractions and play good basketball and get the win to finish the preseason on a high note.