On the second night of a home-and-home, after winning in Boston for the first time in 6 years, the Raptors can win the season series against the Celtics at home. It’s not a stretch to guess why the Raptors are 10.5 point favourites: with a handful of games left in the season, the Celtics can’t be blamed for trying to “earn” (lol) more ping pong balls in the lottery. The reality is that this team is void of talent, and Brad Stevens did a masterful job of squeezing blood out of a stone. Ainge rightfully pulled the plug on this team, replaced Doc with someone who is better suited for getting as much out of rebuilding team, while also guiding, coaching, and mentoring along the way, and ruined a divisional rival in the process. This seasons Nets squad has made me very happy, but I still don’t want to see them in the first round, so the Raptors need to handle business tonight at home.

I went back and forth with Tom Westerholm of Celtics Hub:

Sam Holako: What was the main thing you took away from the home loss about the Raptors, and how they played?

Tom Westerholm: Even though it wasn’t the prettiest game I’ve ever seen, the Raptors really look like they enjoy playing together. Several times I noticed players going out of their way to high-five one another or help each other up. That kind of thing is often undervalued, especially in the analytics community, but the Raps really look like a cohesive unit both on the floor and in the peripheral stuff. That’s going to be very important in the playoffs.

Sam: With respect to DeRozan and Ross, if you had to choose between the two, who would you prefer and why?

Tom: For what Toronto needs, I would take Ross. No disrespect to DeRozan, who is probably the better player, but Ross is still under his rookie contract, and the fact that he shoots 40 percent from 3-point range is big. Neither player is ever going to be the best (or probably the second best) player on a championship team, and I would just rather have the cheaper-but-still-quite-productive option if I was building a roster.

Sam: BUT DEROZAN’S AN ALL-STAR!!!!!

Tom: SO WAS MO WILLIAMS. I’m kidding, of course. I have no problem with DeRozan making the All-Star team, although Lowry got snubbed, and Toronto would take a significant hit without DeRozan or Ross. If I could cherry-pick a player off Toronto, though, I’d rather steal Ross.

Sam: Since you brought Lowry up; he caused a lot of problems for the Celtics, and was the key factor in the win. What will be strategy to both neutralize him and exact some sort of revenge on the road?

Tom: Yeah, he…doesn’t suck at basketball. Boston’s defense has been surprisingly good at containing penetrators at the point of attack this year, which is huge since he’s so dangerous in the pick-and-roll. I honestly think Boston’s best chance at containing Lowry is hedging hard (since Lowry punished ICE defense with 3-pointers last game) and sharpening the subsequent defensive rotations. Realistically, though, revenge isn’t likely.

Sam: Dillinger seems to not suck at basketball either, but he could stand to trim down a bit, right? In all seriousness, what’s with this obsession with these juicy power forwards you have a history of (Davis, Glen)?

Tom: Given how slender Kevin Garnett is, I think the Celtics have averaged a very normal build at power forward over the past six years. Sullinger definitely does need to trim down, but some of that extra poundage is due to all the rest he needed last year for his back problems. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Sully supplemented that rest with lean proteins and vegetables, but such is life. Given a good offseason of work, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sullinger comes into next season 15-20 pounds lighter, which will improve his defense considerably. Sullinger is quite good at verticality but bad at moving his feet.

Sam: Olynyk continues your tradition of skinny forwards, and makes an odd pairing with Sullinger in the frontcourt. How well do these two work together, and is this the pairing of the future?

Tom: You’re j

Keys to the Game

  1.  Play Lowry more than 34 minutes. While Vasquez is the current media darling, from game-to-game, and frankly play-to-play, we don’t know if we’re getting Ginobli, Kidd, Miller, or Vasquez out of him. Which is fine for what he does for the 2nd unit, but if the Raptors are trying to win games, Lowry needs to be running things.
  2. Show up. I mean, I could go through a myriad list of things (let Avery Bradly shoot the ball whenever he wants; keep Sullinger off the boards and out on the perimeter putting up threes; if Rondo’s shooting, and not passing, that’s a good thing; anything, do anything, but do it with conviction) but the reality is that all the Raptors need to do is show up, not take this team lightly, and handle business.
  3. Not so much a key to the game, but PPat is expected to play, and not a moment too soon

A win today and we secure playoffs since the last time Bosh and his raggedy dreads were trotting up and down the court. With the Playoffs around the corner, as long as the Raptors don’t spot 10 point leads to start games, there might be opportunities to give Lowry a bit of rest heading into the playoffs.

UPDATE (5:39 PM)

My take? Ask Clay Davis.

  • The Red Fury

    Bosh was pretty bad-ass with those dreads.

    • Duke

      No…just no. Bosh has never been bad-ass

      • The Red Fury

        why is their so much hate for a guy who averaged 20+pts 10+ rbs for 3 of his 7 years as a raptor??? You have to be a bad-ass in the NBA to get 10+ boards a season.

        • Duke

          Being a bad-ass means way more than getting 10 rebounds a game when you’re 6’11. JV has shown more bad-ass in his career than bosh ever has. It’s about toughness, swagger, emotion… All things that Bosh had none of. There’s a reason why Shaq called him the RuPaul of big men, and why he’s been at the butt-end of many, many jokes.

          • The Red Fury

            You do realize there are only 9 players in the NBA today that avg more than 10+ rebounds… it takes a lot more than being tall…..
            Being called RuPaul by Kazaam sure is meaningful…
            I LOVE JV, but he is a boy learning a mans game. He has showed signs of mental toughness. Swagger yes, still needs to learn to harness his emotions. Being emotional and harnessing emotions are different things…
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLvWGunHiOo – #4 and 2 are my favorite….
            I think you’re confusing Bosh with Bargnani.

            • Duke

              I never said Bosh wasn’t a good player, but you might be the first person in history to refer to him as ‘bad-ass’..and for good reason. My opinion was always that he was pretty good, but soft. And a lot of other ppl feel the same way

              • The Red Fury

                I never said you didn’t say he wasn’t a good player. All I said was ‘pretty bad-ass with the dreads’. And you went off on a tangent saying he had no toughness,swagger,emotion. Don’t be ‘shaqtin’ a fool’ son.

                • Duke

                  Putting Bosh and bad-ass together is the only shaqtin a fool moment goin on here 😉

                • The Red Fury

                  ok there Kazaam. 😉

            • noname

              #3 man he just punched that guy in the face…with the ball.

          • Hassan Mehmood Khan

            lol that was epic !

          • sleepz

            Lol, really? What has JV shown as to being a badder ass?

            Its about toughness you say? And you can tell this within the 20 minutes he plays on most nights? He doesn’t look so tough and bad ass when he starts to sulk when things aren’t going his way.

            You show your toughness on the court, simple and plain. Because Bosh got dissed by Shaq doesn’t mean anything. Shaq makes fun of Barkley all the time, but who would ever say Charles isn’t that? Very few big men in this league are asked to do the things Bosh does. There’s a mental and physical toughness in that itself.

            • Duke

              Bosh gets dissed by everyone! Lol.. And not in the ‘he’s relevant and we poke fun at him’ kind of way. The fact that you compare that with him poking fun at Barkley is laughable. Shaq and Barkley were bitter rivals on the court, it even got physical on multiple occasions. The only time it got physical against Bosh was when he bullied him around in the paint, and all Bosh would do is complain to the media after about how the refs let Shaw have his way. And that’s the type of player Bosh is… He’d rather complain than actually going out there and physically imposing himself. Please tell me when Bosh has showed his toughness on the court. And don’t bring up numbers and shots cause that’s never what this discussion was about. Like I said, I never said that he’s not a good player. But he sure as hell isn’t a badass on the court.

              • sleepz

                I used Barkley as an example that Shaq makes fun of just about anyone he wants to.

                And who cares who gets ‘dissed’ or not. This isn’t the playground or who can diss who’s mama the hardest. What do you do on the court is all that matters.

                All players complain to the refs hombre, ain’t nothing new there. To play PF in this league and accomplish what he has, you don’t get there being soft.

                Maybe being ‘hard’ or badass to you means waiting in an alley with a 2 x 4 and a scowl.

                Joe Dumars was quiet and composed but was a ‘tough’ baller. Kevin Johnson was quieta nd a nice guy, but a tough dude. Many examples of not having to be an enforcer to be rough and tumble.

            • Duke

              http://youtu.be/4B8DcVzWJnI

              http://youtu.be/JycY3NMo4uA (the game where he complained to the refs after cause Shaq was being too physical and ‘camping out’)

              http://youtu.be/HOv_Nmhxz6g

              Want more proof? Cause I can keep going

              • The Red Fury

                Keep it coming Kazaam. We need more videos of Skip Bayless (who never played college ball) talking about NBA players. Also more video’s of Bosh playing center guarding Shaq who had 100 pound advantage on him. Great ‘proof’.

                • Duke

                  I guess you missed the part where he referenced LBJ (Bosh’s own teammate) calling Bosh out for not being aggressive enough. Why do you think the Heat had to get Birdman and Oden? Cause they weren’t TOUGH enough inside to compete with Indiana. The game that Birdman was suspended for last year in the playoffs? Yeah they got dominated by the Pacers. And since when does size have anything to do with it? It’s about heart, which is exactly my point. Garnett doesnt get bullied that easily..and he’s skinnier than Bosh. So yeah, my proof keeps on coming while you’re sitting there bein’ a box score Betty, which proves nothing.

                • The Red Fury

                  I’d like to see you guard Shaq with ‘heart’ and see what happens.

                  Anyhow, I go back to my original comment “Bosh was pretty bad-ass with those dreads.” Bosh no longer has dreads. You keep bringing things up that aren’t being discussed.

                  Keep writing. It’s very entertaining.

                • Duke

                  Oh so we’re gonna make this about me guarding Shaq now.. And that’s supposed to help your argument? Ha.. And inn case you didn’t notice, my proof/videos was for sleepz..and then you responded again. So don’t try to throw it back to me like I don’t get your point… You’re the one that started piping up again, and still haven’t responded to any facts or proof that I’ve given you. You just keep deflecting shit.. Which tends to be what someone does when they don’t have an argument at all.

                • sleepz

                  I responded. Wasn’t much proof of anything other than sometimes, people will go to great illogical lengths to try and prove their point.

                • Duke

                  Great illogical lengths? Cause I posted 3 videos and brought up a valid point? Sure buddy… Keep believing Bosh is so ‘bad-ass’ lol. Even though most of the league thinks otherwise. But sure, everyone else is wrong and you’re right.

                • Duke

                  You said Bosh was bad-ass, something he is not and never was. So yes, my point has relevance. But like I said, keep on deflecting lol

                • sleepz

                  Maybe you can share some videos of JV being a badass like you mentioned earlier. Since we all know Youtube clips tell the whole story.

                • The Red Fury

                  are you 10 years old? You still don’t get it. Bosh was bad-ass with those dreads. It’s my opinion. Maybe you should come up with your own rather than regurgitating what the media feeds you?

                • The Red Fury

                  and why are you swearing at people???

                • sleepz

                  They had to get Birdman and Oden beccasue they are asking a 4 to play out of position every game. teams like Indiana have legitimate 5’s and you need personnel to help deal with them.

                  Btw, Indiana has not gotten past Miami since the big 3 got there so obviously they have been tough enough up until this year.

                  Garnett’s skinnier than Bosh? And who has ever bullied Garnett in this league? lol Your example is laugjable as well hombre.

                  Your proof is Youtube clips, speculation and ………nothing else. Not much to see here man.

                • Duke

                  You’re soooo fuckin cool cause you use the word hombre, lemme tell you.. Do they offer classes to help be as witty as you? Please share your secret

              • sleepz

                Oh goodness, he complained to the ref about Shaq!LOL. He’s ultra soft!!!

                Do me a favour, and Youtube all of the other players that have complained to the Refs about Shaq and you will have a months worth of videos to watch by yourself.lol

                But please, keep going. You’re not proving anything

                • Duke

                  That was ONE out of about 5 points I brought up. But yes, keep focusing on that one alone since it makes you feel so fuckin smart lol

                • Duke

                  I’m doing a helluva lot better trying to prove my point than you are. You’ve made exactly 0 points to back yourself up, and about 3-4 to back up the fact that you’re a massive jackass

            • Philoveritas

              JV is pretty tough from what I’ve seen, not the type to back down or get pushed around, sure he’s no Psycho T, but then again who is. Because of his build Bosh could only ever hope to be as tough as KG. Oh how I long for the days of Charles Oakley, that was one bad mofo.

            • FLUXLAND

              He’s mean muggin and throwin bows… so obviously he’s badass.

        • Sam

          I was hating on Bosh’s dreads, not him.

    • IC

      Yeah, sure, if the anorexic ostrich/predator hybrid is what you’re going for.

    • Tanks-a-lot

      He looked like a Fantasia mop

  • Duke

    Pretty sad the way Derozan gets beat up on by RR writers. Was the sarcasm about him being an all-star really necessary? If you don’t like his game, fine whatever, but at least show him respect for the way he’s gone about his professional career. Not to mention what he does for the city and fans.

    • What the

      It ain’t pretty ! but don’t worry this city will get get what it wants and deserve as a team PG-Vas, C-Val, PF-Turk SF-Wiggins, SG-Beninile, 2nd unit PG-De CO, C-Bargniani, PF-AK47 SG-Calderon and at SF-GALLO from Denver and then they hit the ground running…i LOVE DOC RIVERS and the players he wants on his team notice who his 15th man is

      • Mack

        What kind of drugs are you withdrawing from?

        • GetLicks

          The kind that makes you see Hedont starting on an NBA team. That Rob Ford shit has nothing on what this dude’s smoking.

          • What the

            yeah he should start on the Rap, RR would write good stuff about him every game how he’s an allstar who dosen’t dribble balls off his leg and takes long twos this city does not deserve any U.S players and should go back to the EURO team BC was putting together and don’t forget to bring back #7 to streach the floor

            • DDayLewis

              You must not have been around in the Turk days. The writers here slammed him EVERY. SINGLE. DAY

              • jakdripr

                Those were some dark times…..

                • What the

                  maybe they need to come back, as to remind us where we are coming from

                • DDayLewis

                  Here’s a reminder:

                  Title: Hedo Turkoglu was the Worst Raptor of All Time (by Zarar)

                  http://www.raptorsrepublic.com/2010/07/15/hedo-turkoglu-was-the-worst-raptor-of-all-time/

                • What the

                  oops, I thaught it was KOmar cudda fooled me RR

                • DDayLewis

                  Nah, everyone here likes DeMar, although I’ll admit that we’re harder on him than most other players because of the role he’s forced to play.

                  The breakdown with DeMar is this. Because he takes up such a significant portion of the game (ie: number of possessions), he plays a hand in a lot of events, therefore he gets a lot of attention. Therefore, if a game is lost, he gets the blame, although consequently, when the team wins, he gets a lot of praise.

                  Nobody has an agenda with these games. We’re fans, just like everyone else here, only we spent an inordinate amount of time stringing together our dim-witted thoughts into semi-comprehensible copy for everyone to read on the internet. We’re like politicians on the radio, except the exact opposite.

                • What the

                  yeah I see what you mean kinda like RUSH LIMBAUGH

                • DDayLewis

                  You really don’t see what I mean

                • Zimdim

                  Golf clap

                • asifyouknow

                  I’ll be dam a truth teller ..Good work…lol

        • What the

          cush, what? you got some

      • What the

        OH YEAH and then you get the owner of the NETS to buy the RAPS and you have one big EURO team and everybody will be happy happy happy ain’t that right Flux

        • FLUXLAND

          LOLOLOL; Hey as long as KOmar is coughing it up with the game on the line and missing FTs, but getting the AS nod… the future is bright. FAs are fighting each other to sign with TO and play with KOmar.

    • Sam

      I actually wasn’t beating up on him; if it came across like that, it
      wasn’t intentional. I’m more of a fan of DD than TR, and was trying to
      make a funny in the process. My bad…

    • sleepz

      Shouldn’t that be all that matters….his game?

      Fans put way too much stock in a player ‘liking the city’ or ‘wanting to be here”.

      Of course Demar wants to be here. There is no other team in the league that would be feeding him 18 shots a game and not ask him to defend.

      • Guest111

        A great player is of little use if he want out as soon as possible.

      • Duke

        No, it’s not all that matters actually. And my post was about more than ‘liking him because he likes the city’. But if you weren’t such a jackass, you would have understood that

      • or nah?

        Well someone ate a nice big bowl of asshole today.

      • What the

        We should get rid of Casey cause he’s not asking KOmar to defend and letting him take 18 shats blah blah blah the four starting U.S players should leave this team and you all get basketball without border players Vas is already here Mamadu’ndyke is coming to backup the allstar Val and then you add VINCE CARTER wow finals baby!

      • FLUXLAND

        LOL! Boom.. no one in the L would run any sort of offensive scheme around DD.

        But, he’s so humble and he watches video of himself on NYE and he works sooo hard (on bouncing the ball off his foot) and HE’S AN ALLSTAR!!!!!!

        I agree, waaay too much is being made of things that have nothing to do with basketball, to justify his game.

    • FREEJV

      ross has more potential cant argue that

      • Duke

        You missed the point then. Nothing I originally stated has anything to do with Ross (keep in mind, this was the same guy who was being completely written off on here at the start of the season). It’s about showing respect for someone who does so much for this team and city. You can still say Ross has more potential, without being a dick about DD’s all-star nod.

        • FLUXLAND

          So much for this team and city? Like what, exactly? Something out of the ordinary from any other player in the NBA? And what does any of that have to do with his game?

          Who cares about his AS nod? He’s not going to be the first or last guy that got a nod and shouldn’t have.

          • gus

            I’m always impressed that you’re able to type with nine dicks in your mouth.

            • FLUXLAND

              Why? You grew up watching your uncledad take 20 in his mouth, but now you’re impressed?

  • andre

    I’m going to be a homer and say demar will continue to improve. He’ll continue to learn, he needs to work on his offensive pacing and learn to not force shots. I’m more comfortable seeing demar take open look threes than him battling for a tough jumper, because he’s gotta be able to hit any shot that’s open. Maybe a little bulk will allow him to work more on that post up game. Either way he’s got the wherewithal to seek self improvement, that shows you he’s got the character of a winner and the self efficacy to strive for better.

    • jakdripr

      I know right, people need to have some faith in the guy. Dudes consistently improved his game every season so I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he does the same thing this offseason.

    • Bendit

      I agree with most what you say…but, no more bulk please. This is a major cause of player deterioration and unintended consequences (losing his shot) when not done in a controlled fashion especially for someone like DD who already has trouble keeping up on D. I believe bothe Gay and JV have suffered from weight gain this past off season and are just now getting out of it. DD has improved his postup game already. Let him concentrate on his ball handling/agility and refine his game to eliminate those inefficient long 2s from his game. He cant be everything.

  • What the

    my friend you don’t want to see the Nets in the first round? but that is who we will be facing, I see the Bull going on a 10 game winning streek after their next game

  • Tanks-a-lot

    If Derozan improves his defense to at least ‘3rd team’ NBA level, he could be averaging 30ppg.

    • Raps

      I’m sorry, I don’t see the connection between his defence and offence. How is being a better defender make you an elite scorer? If anything it’ll make you a more inefficient one.

      • Tanks-a-lot

        I’m not saying Derozan is anything close to Michael Jordan, but I point to Jordan to make my point that defense leads to offense. Steals and forced turnovers lead to easy buckets.

        How in the heck can playing better defense make someone less efficient at scoring? That just doesn’t make logical sense.

        • Raps

          He uses much more energy on defence. Most of the plays Casey runs for Derozan require him to use a lot of energy and as athletic as Demar is, not even Paul George can maintain consistent efficiency on the offensive end of the floor while defending the best wing players.

  • DDayLewis

    Guys, we don’t need to turn every comment section into a pissing contest.

    • Guest

      No, I shoot further.

    • mountio

      Isnt that precisely what the comment section is for…..?

      • Sam

        #winning

  • ZQ

    Does anyone else notice Rondo’s leftover side patches for his moustache, what’s the deal with those haha

    • JonasBrutha

      That’s swag bro, you ain’t know? Get with the times!

  • Joe-nus Va-cu-ee-na-wa-sauce

    antoine walker was a fat pf

    • Zimdim

      Best name here

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  • Zimdim

    Make ya knee joints lock when I freak u
    Hit the 3 point shot like Hedo
    Turkoglu up in the game
    U killin the game like pac, nigga we point glocks like he do, see u.

    “BOLL!”