Pre-Game

Gameday: Celtics @ Raptors, April 4

Boston Celtics vs Toronto Raptors

Sat Apr 4, 7:30 PM EST – CSNE, SNET

Line: TOR -3.0, O/U: 209.0

Air Canada Centre – Toronto, ON

Recent Matchups

Ranks

  • 104.3 ORTG (18)
  • 104.9 DRTG (13)
  • 95.7 Pace (6)
  • 75.1 DRB% (14)
  • 0.52 TS% (23)

Latest Results

Leaders

  • Isaiah Thomas 18.2 ppg
  • Jared Sullinger 8.1 rpg
  • Rajon Rondo 10.8 apg
  • Kelly Olynyk 0.7 bpg
  • Rajon Rondo 1.7 spg

Ranks

  • 111.1 ORTG (4)
  • 107.8 DRTG (25)
  • 93 Pace (21)
  • 73.5 DRB% (23)
  • 0.553 TS% (5)

Latest Results

Leaders

  • DeMar DeRozan 19.5 ppg
  • Jonas Valanciunas 8.7 rpg
  • Kyle Lowry 6.9 apg
  • Jonas Valanciunas 1.2 bpg
  • Kyle Lowry 1.5 spg

With just 6 games to go in the regular season, the Raptors’ quest for 50 wins remains on life support tonight as they take on the division rival Celtics. At 45-31 following last night’s loss to the Nets, it’ll take a 5-1 record over the remainder of the season to turn the trick, though don’t forget that those 6 games include two against the infuriatingly unbeatable Charlotte Hornets. Basically, what I’m saying here is that if 50 matters to you, you’d better be hoping for/quite honestly expecting a win tonight.

Of course, a win, if it comes, will likely have to be obtained without 2/5 of the Raptors’ starting lineup, as Amir Johnson added an ankle sprain to Kyle Lowry’s current back woes. As of writing this (Friday night, around midnight EST), there is no word on either player’s condition for tomorrow, though I’d guess smart money is on neither of them suiting up, and certainly not Lowry.

That’s not to say that this game isn’t winnable without Lowry or Johnson. Though the Celtics have been frisky lately and sit just a half game out of a playoff spot, even this shorthanded Raptor squad has more talent on its roster than Boston. Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart are a nice guard rotation, yes, one that includes a microwave scorer in Thomas and two tough-nosed defensive players that will make things difficult for DeMar DeRozan and Lou Williams to get theirs easily. Up front, players like Evan Turner, Brandon Bass, and Kelly Olynyk are versatile, but nobody on the Celtic roster has the size nor the strength to go toe to toe with a player like Jonas Valanciunas, who represents the Raptors’ biggest matchup advantage on the floor.

If I were gameplanning this matchup, I’d be sticking James Johnson on the teeny Isaiah Thomas and daring Smart and Bradley to beat me on the outside, and throwing the ball into Jonas as much as humanly possible. Of course, this is Dwayne Casey we’re talking about here, so Lou Williams will probably take 40 shots over Smart, but a guy can dream. One thing I am looking forward to seeing tonight, assuming Amir is unable to play, is the insertion of Patrick Patterson in the starting lineup and whether his shooting frees up Casey to play Johnson with the starting unit. It’s a look that fans have been clamoring for all season, and one that could be very unconventional, yet effective in today’s modern, positionless NBA.

I’ll take the Raptors by 3, but all it’ll take is one hot shooting Celtic or a slow start by Toronto to let Boston blow the doors off the Raptors. This team is young, hungry, fighting for a playoff spot, and not to be taken lightly, but I do expect talent – DeMar and Jonas are the two most talented players on either team – to carry the day, despite all the current shortcomings of this Raptor roster.

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