Beating Competing against Playing the Celtics has become a mental exercise for the Raptors. The proof was in the pudding when they were humiliated last week by a shell of a team. We excused the game simply by saying that the Raptors can’t win them all, and that even without Garnett/Pierce/Rondo, the Celtics are a good team that you can’t sleep (which they aren’t). Fact of the matter is that if the Raptors did win that game like they should have, they would have be in the middle of a 9 game winning streak, and sitting 5th in the East.
It’s only one game, but it only takes that one thing to make or break a team. If Courtney Lee hit that layup last year in the finals against the Lakers at the end of the game, the whole complexion of that series would have changed. The same goes for the Raptors against the Celtics. Although the Celtics are unquestionably a better team, they are the big bullies on the block. Two years ago, they got into our heads and have lived there ever since. Last weeks game was such an important one because, even though the Celtics were injured, a win (on the road no less) would have been engraved in the Raptors brains. And for a team that has had so few positive things to hold on to over the last few years, it could have been used as a catlyst for the rest of the season.
Fortunately the loss didn’t affect the Raptors as they went on to beat the Spurs, Magic and 76ers in succession since, but I just can’t stand losing to the Celtics anymore. I really want the Raptors to go out and beat the crap out of them today, enough’s-enough.
Bosh and Bargnani have been playing phenomenal together ever since the beginning of December. In fact, I have a bit of a man-crush going for Bargnani recently. The kid’s got ice in his veins, and has been making big plays at important points of the game. Both Bosh and Bargnani need to use their quickness advantage to get Wallace and Perkins into foul trouble. Last game, they made no such effort which allowed them to combine for 30pts 16rebs 5ast. Without Garnett, the Celtics front line is weak, and this HAS to be exploited. I’d even go so far as to say if the Raptors do nothing else this game, they should take the ball right into Wallace and Perkins, and force them to make a defensive play. Oh, and the forwards who sit on the bench for the Celtics have no business contributing much today either. Amir needs to elbow Big Baby in his mouth and not let the fat bastard make us look stupid again.
The Hawks shot 58.9% from the field in the second half of their win over the Celtics on Friday, bust most of those came on jumpers. The Celtics perimeter rotations have not been as crisp as they were, and a lot of that has to do with their injury situation. Sharing the ball will become paramount. When Bosh gets doubled in the block, he needs to kick it out quickly to the perimeter, and the ball needs to be swung until a good shot presents itself. The Celtics don’t switch on screens, so when Jack/Calderon/Turkoglu come off the high pick, they need to turn the corner and attack the paint forcing the Celtic defense to collapse and kick out to an open shooter.
I’m not claiming to have the recipe for a win, but if the Raptors:
- Attack Wallace Perkins early and try to get them into foul trouble
- Come off the high screen aggressively and force the Celtics defense to collapse (then find a shooter)
- Kick the ball out quickly when the double comes
- Rebound the crap out of the ball
- Pop their collars after hitting a shot…
…they should have a good chance at taking this one. Beating the Celtics requires a swagger we haven’t played with yet. I stress yet, because the Raptors have shown some recently. Save last week against Boston, they haven’t rolled over when the chips were down.
The line has the Raptors as 1 point favourites, with an over/under of 198. It’s going to be a a tough game that will boil to who wants it more, but I have to go with the Raps for no other reason then to put out some positive energy. The Celtics are vulnerable having lost 4 of their last 6. Not saying it is going to be easy, but it needs to be done. I think I speak for all of us when I say I am sick and tired of the Celtics, and am calling for a 100-98 win for the Raptors (Bargnani with the game winning three).