The Celtics host the Toronto Raptors for the first of 4 meetings this season. They will meet one more time in Boson on December 29 and they will play 2 games in Toronto on November 17 and January 15. The November 17 game will be the Celtics second In Season Tournament game. The Celtics won the series 4-0 last season. The Celtics are 66-41 overall all time against the Raptors. They are 39-14 all time in Boston.
The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games, having played a tournament game at home on Friday night. This is the second game of a 3 game home stand. They will finish up the home stand against the Knicks on Monday before heading out on a 4 game road trip through Philadelphia, Toronto, Memphis and Charlotte. This is the 4th and final game of a 2-1 road trip for the Raptors.
Al Horford missed Friday’s game for knee injury management. I’m guessing that he sat that game and will play in this game because Brooklyn lacks big men while the Raptors have a good center rotation. Neemias Queta remains out with a foot injury. For the Raptors, Precious Achiuwa (groin) and Christian Koloko (illness) are both listed as questionable and a game time decision.
Probable Celtics Starters
2 Way Players
Neemias Queta (foot) out
Al Horford (right knee injury management) probable
Probable Raptors Starters
Otto Porter, Jr
Gary Trent, Jr
2 Way Players
Ron Harper, Jr
Precious Achiuwa (groin) questionable
Christian Koloko (illness) questionable
Derrick White vs Scottie Barnes
Barnes is averaging 21.5 points, 10.4 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.1 blocks per game. He is shooting 48.5% from the field and 38.1% from beyond the arc. He has been Toronto’s best and most consistent player and it will be important for the Celtics to defend him well.
Jayson Tatum vs Pascal Siakam
Siakam is averaging 17.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. He is shooting 45.1% from the field and 29.3% from beyond the arc. He is struggling somewhat on 3s but if left alone, he is very capable of hitting them.
Jrue Holiday vs Dennis Schroder
Former Celtic Dennis Schroder is playing well for the Raptors. He is averaging 17.0 points, 1.8 rebounds. 8.4 assists and 1.0 steals per game. He is shooting 47.2% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense will always be the key to winning. The Celtics are 3rd with a defensive rating of 105.6 while the Raptors are 8th with a defensive rating of 107.6. If the Celtics hope to win this game it will have to be with defense first. The Celtics must try to keep them out of the paint and force them to play out of their comfort zone.
Rebound - The Raptors average 47.0 rebounds per game (6th) while the Celtics average 49.6 rebounds per game (2nd) Rebounding is very important to limit second chance baskets and fast breaks. Much of rebounding is effort and hustle. The Celtics must put out more effort to beat the Raptors to rebounds.
Move the Ball - The Celtics are 25th in the league with 23.7 assists per game. They play best when the ball is moving and players move to find the best shots. When the ball sticks, the offense is stagnant and the Celtics struggle to score. They need to make good passes and keep the ball moving rather than lapsing into hero ball.
Don’t Die by the Three - The Celtics have to take the ball inside if their 3’s aren’t falling. They took 47 threes against the 76ers and hit just 31.9% of them. Too often they dribbled up the court and stopped at the 3 point line to launch one without passing the ball or looking for a better shot. When they are hitting their 3’s, it’s great, but then they aren’t, they need to find another way to score.
Back to Back - The Celtics are playing in their first back to back set this season. Meanwhile, the Raptors haven’t played since Wednesday. Last year, the Celtics did very well on the second night of back to back games so hopefully that will carry over into this season. Hopefully the reserves will play well enough to give the starters enough rest to be able to finish the game strong.
Officiating - While rarely is officiating a reason for a win or a loss, it can always be an x-factor. Every game is called differently. Some games are called tightly and some games are allowed to be more physical. The Celtics have to adjust to the way the game is being called and focus on playing and not on the bad calls that are being made or not being made.