The Raptors begin a back to back this weekend, starting with league leading Boston after a highly disappointing 1-2 road trip. These will be the only two home games for a while, as Toronto goes back on the road for seven games after Sunday.
Celtics scope (34-12, 1st in East | Offensive rating: 2nd | Defensive rating: 7th)
Boston comes in as the second hottest team in the league behind Denver, with eight straight wins. The Celtics haven’t lost since giving up 150 points to a Thunder team missing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on January 3rd. They are 1-1 without Jayson Tatum this season but Jaylen Brown is more than capable of picking up the slack. He ranks 12th in scoring with 27 points a game.
Raptors scope (20-26, 11th in East | Offensive rating: 13th | Defensive rating: 20th)
Toronto has become the team that teams rest stars against and pick up wins anyway. Giannis Antetokounmpo sat on Tuesday. Minnesota was shorthanded on Thursday. Can the third attempt this week work in the Raptors favour with Tatum out?
Defence should be the first priority. The Raptors have lost the last two games despite averaging 124 points because they’ve allowed 129. Milwaukee poured in 19 threes while the Timberwolves added 17, most notably D’Angelo Russell in the fourth quarter last game. Both teams shot over 50 percent from the field. Over the last six games, Toronto has a 122.8 defensive rating, creeping into bottom-10 territory.
Pascal Siakam has come back down to earth a bit, failing to score 25 points in each of his last four games and shooting 1-15 from three during that stretch. Fatigue could be a factor as Pascal has played over 40 minutes in three straight games. Meanwhile, Scottie Barnes continues to be a bright spot lately.
Tip-Off: 5pm EST | TV: TSN 4/5/4K | Radio: Sportsnet 590
Jayson Tatum (left wrist soreness) will miss his third game of the season after playing 48 minutes vs the Warriors on Thursday. Danilo Gallinari (torn ACL) has been out all year.
PG: Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon, Payton Pritchard
SG: Derrick White, JD Davison
SF: Jaylen Brown, Sam Hauser, Justin Jackson
PF: Al Horford, Grant Williams
C: Robert Williams III, Luke Kornet, Blake Griffin, Mfiondu Kabengele
Dalano Banton (hip pointer) is out. Otto Porter Jr. (toe) is out for the season. Christian Koloko is with the Raptors 905.
*Update: Fred VanVleet is OUT with right rib soreness. Point Scottie or Malachi at point? Let’s guess the former with Precious getting a start*
PG: Scottie Barnes, Malachi Flynn
SG: Gary Trent Jr.
SF: O.G. Anunoby, Juancho Hernangomez, Joe Wieskamp
PF: Pascal Siakam, Chris Boucher, Thaddeus Young
C: Precious Achiuwa, Khem Birch
The Raptors are favoured by 1.5 points. Vegas believes a third time is the charm when it comes to facing a team missing a star. The Over/Under is 225.5.