After getting back on track against the Orlando Magic, the Toronto Raptors are faced with the tough task of taking down the Boston Celtics who have been one of the elite teams in the eastern conference and in the NBA itself. They are one of Toronto’s few contenders for rival, and the two teams fought a brutal seven-game playoff series quite recently, so any games against the Celtics are special. And this is the first time Toronto is facing off against Boston this season in what surely will be a hard-fought game.
Coming into this game, Jayson Tatum is amongst the top of the NBA when it comes to MVP and rightfully so as he is averaging 30.7 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game, and 4.3 assists per game. So slowing down Tatum will no doubt be priority number one on the Raptors agenda. We’ve seen the method that Toronto employs to slow down the superstars they face in this league but that may not be viable against Boston because they have so many players who can create reliably with the ball in their hands. So, if you double Tatum or trap the ball screen he can spray it out to Jaylen Brown, Malcolm Brogdon, Derrick White, etc, all smart players who more often than not can keep the advantage alive, I would like to see OG draw the assignment on Tatum without all the doubling, if there is anyone who can keep up with Tatum’s strength creation it is O.G., just provide help in the gaps. Jaylen Brown is also on his own hot streak coming into tonight as he is averaging 31.6 points over his last five games. Since Fred VanVleet and Scottie Barnes haven’t been very good at on ball defense it’ll take a good amount of help from stunts and help at the rim to slow him down.
On the other end I think Toronto has some good matchups going their way. Since O.G. has tossed his hat in the ring for All-Star contention this season and has been a brute when getting to the rim this season it spells issues for Boston’s defense. Jaylen Brown is too small to guard O.G., Grant Williams as well, and if you put Tatum on him then Pascal is going to have a mismatch somewhere. With no Robert Williams it also puts some strain on Boston’s defense and gives the Raptors easier attempts on the rim. Toronto will have to be better on their rotations tonight because Boston as a team is shooting a staggering 40.4 percent from three and will undoubtedly burn any late rotations or miscommunications.
Tip-Off: 7:30pm EST | TV: TSN 1/4/4K | Radio: Sportsnet 590
Marcus Smart out (hip), Robert Williams out (knee)
PG: Malcolm Brogdon, Derrick White
SG: Jaylen Brown, JD Davidson
SF: Jayson Tatum, Sam Hauser
PF: Grant Williams, Blake Griffin, Noah Vonleh
C: Al Horford, Luke Kornet
Juancho Hernangomez is doubtful (ankle). Precious Achiuwa is out (ankle). And Otto Porter Jr. is out(foot)
PG: Fred VanVleet, Dalano Banton, Malachi Flynn
SG: Scottie Barnes, Gary Trent Jr.
SF: O.G. Anunoby
PF: Pascal Siakam, Chris Boucher, Thaddeus Young
C: Christian Koloko, Khem Birch
Boston is favored by 1.5 points. The Over/Under is 227.5.