Full disclosure: I’m writing this recap with a huge smirk on my face.

I’m smirking because the hated C*ltics are on a nine-game losing streak and our beloved Dinos are winners of three straight. I’m smirking because we’re finally atop the Atlantic and the lowly C*ltics are precariously close to sole possession of last place. I’m smirking because the mean old bullies — namely Pierce and Garnett, who we beat on Drake Night — are yesterday’s news. I’m smirking because the only hint of machismo left in the building belongs to the sweaty human pit-stain known as Tommy Heinsohn, who is probably working overtime comparing the trio of Sullinger, Bass and Crash, to McHale, Parish and Bird. I’m smirking because when it comes to the NBA, these Massholes can’t gloat about their team being better than ours (although say nothing of the Red Sox over the Jays, the Bruins over the Leafs and the Patriots over the CFL as a whole).

But mostly, I’m smirking because the C*ltics dominated us during the KG-era (Raptors lost 19 of 24 games against the C*ltics between ’07-’08 and ’12-’13), and now it’s our turn to kick them while they’re down, and more importantly, we can finally avenge Jose Calderon (we miss you Jose!) for this:

Anywho, I swapped some questions with my homie Kevin Cronan from Squeeze the Orange and CelticsTalk (launching this Friday) to preview tonight’s game:

1. Ahh the tables have finally turned. Now the Raptors are atop the Atlantic and your lowly C*ltics are are on a nine-game slide right into the basement. Before you answer anything else, please acknowledge us as the new kings of the East.

I’m sorry, but I can’t hear you over the glorious rattle of ping pong balls. Fine, I will give credit where credit is due. The Raptors have been playing well and have had pretty big wins over solid teams. So congratulations, Toronto. The Craptlantic (came up with that one all on my own) is all yours, even if you are only two games above .500. I’d watch your backs though, because New York and Brooklyn are finally picking up steam.

2. Okay so more salt in the wound — why are you guys on a nine-game slide? Is Brad Stevens’ magic pixie dust wearing off or did Ainge finally tell the boys to cut out the grab-ass and demand to tank?

You mean aside from the fact that we just went on a five-game road trip and our last seven games all came against Western Conference teams vastly superior to us? Well for starters, Boston is a young team without much veteran leadership, so tough stretches like this can take a heavy toll on them. It’s easy to get discouraged when you go on long losing streaks like this. Also, Brad Stevens has been changing his lineups a lot, going with different players in crunch time seemingly every game. When you aren’t sure what your role is, it can be hard to play effectively. With Rondo returning, they should be able to right their ship somewhat and recover from this free-fall. Just feel lucky you missed his return by a game.

3. Everyone’s favorite NBA bahumbug is coming back after 29,233,380 secs away from the game. Tell me, what do you expect out of Rondo this season, how will his return impact the Celtics and what are the odds that he gets traded?

Rondo is a perfectionist, and he has stated several times that he won’t return until he’s 100%. He’ll have some rust, sure, but I’m confident that his re-assimilation will go quicker than expected. Rondo will have to shoulder a much larger load now that he’s the only remaining member of the Big 3 era, and I’m sure he’s anxious to show off his much improved jump-shot we keep hearing so much about. I think he will have a good season once he gets his legs back. A healthy Rondo could do great things for the team, provided Ainge doesn’t trade him or his supporting cast away. As for his own trade odds, all I can say is that if the right deal comes along, Ainge will trade anyone (see: Perkins, Kendrick; Pierce, Paul; Garnett, Kevin).

4. How’s our boy Kelly Olynyk doing? Is Tommy still calling him the next Dirk or has he turned out like every other tall white Canadian player and settled in as a jump-shooting role player (whaddup, Bill Wennington?)

I had a front-row seat on the Olynyk Train after his performance in summer league. Since then I have gotten off at We-could-have-drafted-Antetokounmpo Station. An ankle injury early on sidelined Kelly for several weeks and he subsequently fell out of the rotation. He’s worked his way back in since but isn’t showing the same promise we saw this summer. As of now, he’s not much else besides a role player. It’s tougher to develop without a veteran big around to show him the ropes like Sullinger had in Garnett, but he still has potential. He has a lot of work to do though before he can be mentioned in the same breath as Dirk.

5. Finally, what’s the key to stopping you guys? Contain Jeff Green and don’t let your hodge-podge of power-forwards get easy put-backs? Who’s name is circled on Dwane Casey’s whiteboard?

It’s tough to say, as there really hasn’t been any trend in our success other than “Jordan Crawford is playing way beyond everyone’s expectations”. Now that you don’t have to worry about that (Crawford is shooting 36% in the last 10 games), it pretty much comes down to making sure Jeff Green is a non-factor (not very hard) and keeping Sullinger and Humphries off the glass when on defense (a little harder). On offense, you’re in the clear, as our bigs are struggling to defend the paint lately. As for who’s circled on the whiteboard? Jerryd Bayless. Bayless was scorching in the fourth quarter against the Rockets Monday night, and Brad Stevens believes in riding the hot hand, so he’ll most likely get big minutes.  I’m sure he’d love to knock out his old team.

As Kevin details, there really isn’t anything to worry about with this C*ltics team. That’s not to say the Raptors should take them lightly, because the Raptors aren’t necessarily good enough to reliably “turn it on” after a slow half like Miami or Indiana, but the cupboard is bare. As Rick Pitino would say, Bird ain’t walkin’ through that door. McHale ain’t walkin’ through that door. Not even Paul Pierce is going to walk through that door. It’s just a litter-box full of MarShon Brooks’s and Kris Humphries’s.

The C*ltics have plenty of gritty defenders shoring up the perimeter, but their efforts are offset by their porous front-line. According to Synergy Stats, the Celtics are very good at defending pick-and-rolls and spot-ups, but they also foul like crazy (opponents have the second highest FTA against the C*ltics). They boast a top-10 defense on the season, but over their last nine games, their defense ranks 25th in the NBA at 108.0 points allowed per 100 possessions, which is only 0.2 points better than the lowly Bucks, who the Raptors turned into roadkill on Monday night.

Incredibly, the C*ltics are even worse on offense. A couple of their bigs — namely Sullinger and Bass — can be effective, but they lack decent facilitators who can consistently deliver the ball to them in the right places and at the right time. Jordan Crawford is performing above expectations, but people were basically expecting him to perform like this year’s JR Smith, so that’s not saying much. Avery Bradley is nobody’s point guard and Jerryd Payless sounds like one of the regulars on Storage Wars.

Jeff Green is their leading scorer — averaging 17.2 ppg on a near-league average 53.9 TS% — but he’s prone to streakiness. From time to time his three’s will fall in buckets and he’ll drop 30+ (remember when he dropped 43 points on the Heat?), but those times are few and far between. Green does possess a size advantage over both Derozan and Ross which could be exploited should Green choose to post-up, but the Raptors bigs have done an excellent job rotating and providing timely help defense all season long, so it really shouldn’t be a problem.

Positional Match-ups

Point Guard — Lowry is playing out of his mind right now. His three’s are dropping, he’s attacking the basket, he’s making timely decisions and he’s playing superb defense. I’d favor him over just about every point guard in the East right now (yes, including Kyrie and Wall). Also, the Celtics point guards are Crawford, Bayless, Bradley and some dude named Pressey. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

Advantage: Raptors

Shooting Guard — Derozan has really been impressive of late. His shooting percentages remain sub-optimal, but he’s doing a great job drawing double-teams and passing out of them for open looks on the perimeter. He’s also stepped up his rebounding and he’s flat-out carried the team for prolonged stretches. Bradley is a dogged defender but that’s the benefit of Derozan’s newfound passing ability — he’s no longer a one-dimensional player, which makes him much harder to defend.

Advantage: Raptors

Small Forward — It’s close, especially given how good Ross’ defense and shooting has been of late, but Green and Wallace are veteran performers who can be counted upon to produce night-in and night-out. Also, I really don’t trust John Salmons and his streaky iso-tendencies.

Advantage: C*ltics, barely

Front Court — I’m pretty sure every big on the Celtics is a power-forward, but fret not — they’re all pretty mediocre. Throw in the fact that 2Pat has been balling of late, and it’s really not close. Things could get a bit dicey should Jeff Green slide over to play the role of small-ball power forward, but I trust Hansbrough and Amir’s collective instincts and quickness to contain him. Also, it’s Jeff Green, not Carmelo, so I’m sure we’ll be alright. I’m looking forward to Jonas pump-faking Humphries out of his shoes before crowning him a la Blake Griffin.

Advantage: Raptors

Bench — The Celtics have an endless row of sitting ducks and middling prospects toiling away on the bench, but as Kevin mentioned earlier, their lineups are constantly fluctuating so it’s hard to project who will see the floor. Either way, so long as 2Pat, Hansbrough and Salmons  stay within their roles, their contributions should overshadow any sporadic production from the C*ltics’ bench.

Advantage: Raptors

Vegas Says: The Celtics suck and you shouldn’t bet on the NBA. Donate that money to an impoverished university student instead (like this present author). However, if you must feed your sickness, Vegas has them down for Raptors -4.0 with the o/u set at 196, which means I have no idea how Vegas lines work.

William Says: Raptors go into Boston, play a sluggish first half and fall behind by 10, before releasing the river (Treebeard style) in the second half en route to blowing out these green goblins by 15 points.  Basically, the game plays out like this gif, where Nate Robinson represents the flailing Celtics falling to their demise. Final score: 97-82.

UPDATE: Welp! The C**tics got even worse. According to Woj, Boston traded MarShon Brooks and Jordan Crawford to Golden State for three second rounders and Joel Anthony, which means it’s time for JayBay and Pressey! Get your popcorn ready!

  • Andrey

    god damn

  • Val Jasme

    let’s beat their *ss

  • Quest

    let’s beat them like we did opening night! go raps!

    • mike, prague

      Let’s kick their ass like we haven’t in six years!

      • 2damkule

        YEAH! like in ’06, because what’s happening now is in no way similar to how that season went down. no sirree.

        • SR

          lol – kind of. The 06 Celtics had more young assets to flip (Al Jefferson) along with picks to turn the team around quickly. This team is about to have nothing but Rondo and a pile of picks. The turn around won’t be so quick.

          They could leapfrog the Raptors in a couple seasons, or they could draft like the Wizards and still be behind the Raptors even after several trips to the lottery.

          Also, Ujiri’s take on this current Raps roster is nowhere near Colangelo’s analysis of the 06/07 squad. MU’s still got his sleeves rolled up + this team is young. It’s unnecessary to assume the Raps have neared their ceiling and will be easily leapfrogged by a team heading to the lottery.

          We’ll see, of course, but there are way too many variables left to insinuate predictions at this point, imho.

  • Nils L.

    When was the last time Raptors writers/bloggers/fans had this much swagger? Looks good on you William.

    • DDayLewis

      Against the Celtics? Probably 2006-07

  • robertparrish00

    Hard not to blame the Heat’s big three directly on the Celtics. So screw em. Hope their draft pick gets injured.

  • SR

    The Nate Robinson gif is terrific.

    I still like how people use the Raptors solid play as evidence that the Atlantic suck. “The division must suck – the Toronto Raptors are in 1st place!” instead of acknowledging that the Raps are playing extremely well with a top 5 defense against a competition that isn’t Atlantic heavy – it includes a solid road record and great wins against the Western Conference.

    Of course if the Bulls, Nets, and Knicks were healthy and functioning, there’d be much more competition in the East, but we’ve seen these Raps get up for games against the Pacers, Heat, OKC, and Spurs – I think they’d still be battling for a top 4 spot in the East (playing like they are now), even given optimal competition.

    • http://www.ted-payne.com Ted Payne

      Agreed 100% Im sick of the “raptors are in the shitty Atlantic” qualifier that has to be brought up every time their good play is mentioned.

      Funny thing is, Raptors have played the 5th toughest schedule (across BOTH conferences) and before the Milwaukee game their SOS was the third highest.

      By FAR the toughest schedule in the East so far…the next top East team is Brooklyn at 12th.

  • 2damkule

    it’s C**tics.

  • pran

    why are you smirking? after having a core that won them a championship (something we have never done) they are doing an excellent job tanking to get them an asset better than any player on our team. While their best asset sits out with injury. Textbook example of how to build a team, in 2 years the celtics will probably be better than us.

    • Andrey

      well hopefully for them it doesn’t take another 20 years to win championship like the last time.(86-08)

    • raptorstand

      Tankers manifest themselves in so many ways. Snakes in the grass.

      • afrocarter

        I wanted to upvote this comment twice. Alas, we must all eventually succumb to the limits of technology.

      • truth be told

        You will be quiet and not be so insulting in the near future when you realize the actual ceiling of this team, as is. Right now you are playing the typical naive Toronto fan role and it looks good on you.

        • GetLicks

          This kind of thinking is exactly what’s wrong with parts of this ‘fan’base. You guys have it all figured out huh? Tank a season, draft a player & win a championship in a few years. LOL what a joke

          • truth be told

            Not at all. I’m just looking for the best way for the team to add game changing talent to the roster and I think the draft is the best way.

            The fact that some ‘fans’ (above) like to determine what being a fan is and it’s not their place to do so. Also shouldn’t be insulting if they don’t agree with it different opinions.

            What do you have figured out? 1st round loss in the playoffs, trumpeted team for next year that just gets better and better each year, ‘growing’ and ‘developing’ with no real elite talent? Perhaps the joke will be on you!

            One thing to disagree on something but am really LOVING the increased arrogance of some (bandwagon) Raps fans whom if you don’t agree with, is cause for insult. LOL what a joke

            • GetLicks

              You’re making a lot of assumptions, like me being a bandwagon fan. I have never wanted to tank this season. I accept tanking (rebuilding) as a legit strategy to build a team, but this year was never the right year for the raptors to do it IMO. And they’ve proven that fact to be right with the way they’re playing now. I don’t expect them to contend this year, but I’m loving the arrogance of fans on here who assume that 3 main guys that are part of this team’s core, are 21-24 and have hit their ceiling as pros. Our young lottery picks are playing well and we don’t know how good they’ll be in 2-3 more seasons. What I do know is that they’re a legitimately good team now, young with a lot of upside. Why is it that bitter raptor tank fans are the only ones to not see what’s growing here?

              This team is nothing like the 06-07 team. And the fact that ppl like you, try to act like we shouldn’t be cheering for wins, and are ‘gonna be sorry’ cause we’re supporting a solid group of players, is ridiculous. That’s what I have a problem with. It’s not that you wanna tank and I don’t, it’s that you’re throwing it in our faces that we’re gonna regret enjoying this team. That’s the only joke here.

            • Raptogram

              The true test of Raptor’s domination over the Celtics isn’t this year, it’s 3-4 years from now. When we dominate them then, only then can we gloat.

              In Masai we trust.

        • raptorstand

          tankers want to take all the enjoyment of our young home grown talent and spit and shat on it. I have been driving the fing bandwagon , screaming at you tankers to get on board and lets have some fun this year. But NOOOOOO ,,, you negative nancies and doomer debbies come around and whine and bitch and moan about winning. LOLOLOL after 5 years of crap ball let us have some enjoyment schlep rock.

    • RaptorFan

      Where did you buy your crystal ball?? LOL

    • DDayLewis

      I never thought I would see the day when RR readers got upset over some schadenfreude over the plight of the present-day Celtics.

  • jonazzing

    i need closure… who went MIA on that last post game?

    • DDayLewis

      It was a genuine mix up on my part. I won’t fuck up tonight’s quick reaction tho

  • raptorstand

    You know when you have arrived when Rondo sits for his comeback. Previous years he would have circled the Raptors date as the comeback. We would have embarrassed him. Coward.

    • 2damkule

      you must be one of those who thought that wade playing in the 2nd of a back-to-back for the first time since november against the raps meant that he did so because he thought the raps were really good, and that the game was uber important, and not that he did so because he thought it would be a relatively light game, and that the team would be able to overcome any negatives he’d bring by playing.

  • Marz

    We will lose this game thanks to William’s arrogance. Stop jinxing us, damnit! 😛

    • DDayLewis

      I’m covering the quick reaction tonight so I’ll own up to it if we lose

      • Dr. Dread

        Thanks for the Jinx… you dick

  • john


    Dammit, what I meant was fuck the Clitics.

  • Saskatoon Raps Fan

    Looks like Boston will be short handed. Just traded Crawford and Brooks

  • GetLicks

    That first paragraph made me all warm n fuzzy inside, Celtics are def my most hated team. With that said, being a raptors fan can be downright cruel, and I REALLY hope they don’t get a shot at drafting Wiggins. Not even he could turn me into a Celtics supporter.

    I’m also not sold on this whole ‘Rondo is a superstar’ thing that everybody keeps pushing. The last time he stepped on the court, he had A LOT of good players and veterans around him which was a big factor in his numbers and play. Let’s see how he does when he’s really the only threat with a bunch of young players and journeymen around him. The guy has never had a consistent jump shot.

    • 2damkule

      i’m not sure what to say if you don’t believe rondo was the engine of the celtics the last few years.

      • GetLicks

        I’m not sure what to say if you don’t think playing with 3 HOF players had a significant impact on his play. We’ll see how he does in a completely different circumstance.

        • GetLicks

          Other than the fact that you’re not really a raptors fan, just a troll that comes out every so often to shit all over the team. Why do you come on here anyway?

          • What the

            I tellya bout these Bucks and Lakers fan boys,they don’t like to see people havin a good time and every happy.

  • Nerius

    This was a very entertaining write-up. However somehow it makes me feel uneasy… Knowing this team still leaves me with the image of it turning around and biting us in the A.

    • Agnostic58

      Because it’s way, way too premature to be wiping it all over everyone else’s faces like this.

      • Nerius

        My point exactly.

  • Tinman

    Can’t be giving away W’s – go for the kill tonight.

    • database_666

      Agree – and also, remember, desperate teams are unpredictable teams. Celtics might come out completely loose and shooting and scraping… Never ever underestimate. We need to step on that snake head early and keep upping the score. They surely did it to us. Even in the game when Garbajosa got injured and had to be wheeled out the TD North arena in Boston.

      • Robert Wright

        Or they got a hold of the photo accompanying this article

  • Ian Reynolds

    3 of those 14 guys in that header are already gone. Replace them with Joel Anthony and a buncha draft picks and NOW you can have your laughter oh wait their cap is better than ours crap crap crap.

  • monocled_gentleman_scholar

    It’s pretty tasteless to trash a team just because it’s losing. Remember we were bottom-dwellers too not so long ago…

    • monocled_gentleman_scholar

      I’m referring to the leading photo of this post.

      • SR

        Why so serious? Gentlemen scholars – so uppity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/asifyouknow Al Asifyouknow

    Lots of empty seats and you have one of the hottest and most fun teams to watch in the NBA..I don’t get it guys ..comments please..

  • RaptorFan

    I must admit this was a very fun/entertaining read man. I really judged you wrong William!
    You know how the Raptors have two identities(Before the Rudy Gay trade and after)? You have a before Tim W. got his negative ass handed to him and after vibe going on. I really enjoy your articles without the negative nanny/debbie downer around making negative comments about how we suck.
    I can honestly feel your enjoyment and excitement as i read your article. It’s sooo refreshing! I almost forgot this feeling exists around here…..its been years! WOW – Keep it up!

  • Louvens Remy

    Derozan goes for 50 tonight. We keep smirking….

    • Louvens Remy

      I am not smirking.

  • DePaul_Dropout

    A giant picture of the Celtics roster with ‘LOL!’ written over it? Are you serious? A wonderfully executed jinx, though. Now never do that again.

    • Louvens Remy

      I’m not worried. They haven’t even put on their beastmode defence yet. They need to hit free throws….

  • john

    For the love of god greivis, you’re not a shooting guard. Stop trying to shoot the effing ball.

  • whocares

    You still smiling right now?

  • Louvens Remy

    now I’m worried. Also people need to STFU about this article jinxing the team. William was having a little fun. Don’t need to go at him. The players are playing like shit.

  • Louvens Remy

    Also poor free throw shooting and no rebounding. Cue the comeback in the 4th!!

  • Darien

    So whats going on with them raps tonight? Poison in the gatorade?

  • http://www.facebook.com/asifyouknow Al Asifyouknow

    I’m afraid Toronto needs to look for a backup point guard. Lowry can’t be playing 40 minutes plus every night.
    Kyle Lowry plays very hard, he can’t keep this stuff up much longer, soon you will see him missing shots, that is usually the sign of dead legs.
    Vasquez is not in Toronto, that has to be an impostor or maybe he doesn’t want to be there. The guy doesn’t suck this bad.
    I don’t know if they can trade him, but he is not helping Lowry at all. Vasquez only played 8 minutes, this coach has lost confidence in him.
    Lots of good back up guards available, could be a good time to make a move.

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