These two like throwing the dukes up really early huh?
For the fourth time in the last seven seasons, the Raptors and Celtics clash in the second game. Three of those four contests were in Boston, so this is nothing new. The Celtics are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Knicks in the runaway winner for the ‘way too early game of the year’ award. However they needed a miracle just for that game to even reach overtime, and then eventually double OT. This is the first leg of a back-to-back, as the Raptors will travel back to Toronto to face Dallas on Saturday.
I’ll be keeping an eye on three things in particular:
1. OG vs the Celtics all-star wings
Anunoby had a forgettable season debut vs the Wizards, shooting 3-17 from the field for 12 points. This is a nice early season test vs Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and it’s expected Anunoby will take turns guarding both as the game goes on. Brown had a spectacular 46 points in New York, including 8-14 from three. One of those was at least a 30 footer which is partially why that game went to overtime in the first place. Tatum had quiet 20 points, and both all-stars took 30 shots. 29 threes attempted between the two as well, so the main defensive focus is obvious. Seeing how Anunoby responds from a poor offensive performance the previous game will be interesting, as he gets used to be a main focus for defensive game plans as well.
2. Offence in general
Just more familiarity and flow in general. No Raptor scored more than 12 points vs Washington, as Toronto ended the game shooting 30 percent from the field and 20 percent from three. So obviously that won’t cut it.
3. Nick Nurse’s rotations
Lots of rotation debate amongst fans, not just from the first game but really a majority of the preseason. Would Goran Dragic be better suited leading a young bench instead of starting alongside Fred VanVleet, which seems to be slowing down the fast pace the Raptors want? Should Khem Birch be starting like he did at the end of last season for Precious Achiuwa? Chris Boucher is also in the mix. What lineups are best to fit with Gary Trent Jr? None of these questions will be definitively answered until Pascal Siakam returns and some sort of hierarchy starts to develop. However the sample size of what works and what doesn’t will grow. Dalano Banton made the preseason battle between these two a couple of weeks ago really fun, creating havoc on both ends of the court. Rexdale’s very own was a game changer against Washington. What does this mean for Malachi Flynn?
Tip-off: 7:30pm EDT | TV: Sportsnet | Radio: TSN 1050
Yuta Watanabe (calf) is out. Pascal is a ways away still. Lineup subject to change.
PG: Goran Dragic, Dalano Banton, Malachi Flynn
SG: Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr, David Johnson
SF: OG Anunoby, Svi Mykhailiuk, Justin Champagnie, Sam Dekker, Isaac Bonga
PF: Scottie Barnes, Chris Boucher
C: Precious Achiuwa, Khem Birch
Josh Richardson is probable to make his Celtics debut after missing the opener with a migraine. Marcus Smart (knee) is also probable. Al Horford (questionable) has been reconditioning after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month. Subject to change.
PG: Marcus Smart, Dennis Schroder, Payton Prichard
SG: Jaylen Brown, Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, Brodric Thomas
SF: Jayson Tatum, Aaron Nesmith, Sam Hauser
PF: Grant Williams, Juancho Hernangomez, Jabari Parker
C: Robert Williams III, Enes Kanter, Bruno Fernando
Boston is favoured by 6.5 points. The over/under is 219. The Wizards and Raptors combined for only 181 points, however the Celtics had 134 (116 in regulation).