The Celtics visit the Toronto Raptors for the fourth and final meeting between these two teams this season. The Celtics won the first three games so far. The Celtics won the series 4-0 last season and have won their last seven games against the Raptors. The Celtics are 69-41 overall all time against the Raptors. They are 28-27 all time in games played in Toronto.
After this game, the Celtics return home for two home games in a row as they host San Antonio and Denver. They then head out on the road again for a three-game road trip to Houston, Dallas and Miami. They then head home for a seven-game home stand. Toronto is returning from a 2-4 road trip. This is their first game back in Toronto and the first of a three-game home stand where they will play Miami and Chicago after the Celtics.
The Celtics remain first in the East, two and a half games ahead of second-place Milwaukee, five games ahead of third-place Philadelphia, six and a half games ahead of fourth-place Indiana, and seven games ahead of fifth-place Cleveland and sixth-place New York. They are 11-9 on the road and 7-3 in their last 10 games. The are 10-1 against Atlantic Division teams and 22-6 against Eastern Conference opponents. They are coming off a win in their last game.
The Raptors are 12th in the East, half a game behind 11th place Atlanta, one and a half games behind 10th-place Brooklyn and the final play in spot. They are eight games behind sixth-place New York and the final guaranteed playoff spot. They are five and a half games ahead of 13th-place Charlotte. They are 9-9 at home and 4-6 in their last 10 games. They are 0-9 against Atlantic Division teams and 9-17 against Eastern Conference teams. They have lost their last three games.
The Celtics have a clean injury report other Jaylen Brown, who is out due to a knee hyperextension. For Toronto, Christian Koloko has not played yet this season and is out with a respiratory illness. Jakob Poeltl is out with an ankle injury. Otto Porter Jr. has missed the last seven games and is doubtful with a knee injury. Pascal Siakam missed the last three games against the Clippers and Jazz with back spasms, but he is not on the injury list at this time.
Probable Celtics Starters
2 Way Players
Jaylen Brown (knee) out
Probable Raptors Starters
Otto Porter, Jr
Gary Trent, Jr
2 Way Players
Christian Koloko (illness) out
Jakob Poeltl (ankle) out
Otto Porter, Jr (knee) doubtful
Jayson Tatum vs Pascal Siakam
Siakam is averaging 22.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game. He is shooting 52.6% from the field and 33.1% from beyond the arc. In the first 3 games against the Celtics he averaged 22.3points, 6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.7 steals. He shot 52.9% from the field and 20% from three. If well defended, he tends to struggle on threes but if left open, he is very capable of hitting them.
Derrick White vs Scottie Barnes
Barnes is averaging 20.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. He is shooting 48.1% from the field and 38.2% from beyond the arc. In the first 3 games against the Celtics, he averaged 18 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 1.7 blocks. He shot 36.5% from the field and 36.7% 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.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense will always be the biggest key to winning. The Celtics are 4th with a defensive rating of 111.1 while the Raptors are 22nd with a defensive rating of 116.9. 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 as they average 54 points in the paint (5th). The Celtics need to force them to play out of their comfort zone.
Rebound - The Raptors average 43.8 rebounds per game (16th) while the Celtics average 47.2 rebounds per game (1st). Rebounding is very important to limit second chance baskets and fast breaks. The Raptors are 2nd in the league with 17.6 fast break points per game. Much of rebounding is effort and hustle. The Celtics must put out more effort to beat the Raptors to rebounds.
Play Hard 48 Minutes - The Celtics need to start off strong and not allow the Raptors to build a lead to start the game. They also need to play hard throughout the game and not allow the Raptors to go on runs to either pull ahead or catch up. The Raptors are a good 4th quarter team and so the Celtics can’t afford to let up and have to play hard right up until the final buzzer.
Move the Ball - The Celtics are 20th in the league with 25.8 assists per game. They play best when the ball is moving and players move to get open 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. The Raptors are 3rd with 29.5 assists per game. The Celtics can’t let the Raptors get comfortable and have to interrupt their passes while moving the ball themselves.
On the Road - The Celtics are once again on the road where they are 11-9. Travel, staying in hotels, playing on an unfamiliar court and in front of hostile fans all are distractions that can take away from players’ focus. The Celtics need to put all that behind them and focus on playing their game. The Celtics are also facing an unfamiliar Raptors team after a mid-season trade.
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. Raptors coach, Darko Rajakovic will definitely tell you that officiating can be an x factor after he went on a rant about the officials after a recent game.
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