The first meeting between these two teams resulted in a blowout victory for Boston, but things have drastically changed since that last November matchup.
The Boston Celtics (24-23) have lost Rajon Rondo for the season due to a torn ACL and Jared Sullinger recently underwent back surgery, which will end his season also. Rondo and Sullinger combined for 18 points, 13 rebounds and 20 assists in the previous victory against Toronto.
Despite their absences, Boston is riding a four-win streak. All of the wins have been at home though, and tonight Boston must travel on the road where they are only 7-14.
On the Raptors (17-31) end, they acquired Rudy Gay in a blockbuster trade that also involved dealing away Jose Calderon to Detroit. Gay provides Toronto a star player which they have missed since Chris Bosh left for the Miami Heat. In two games with Toronto, Gay is averaging 24.5 points per game.
Gay will square off against Paul Pierce, who broke out of a mini-scoring drought on Sunday, topping the 20-point mark for the first time in a week and a half. With Gay now in the Atlantic Division, these two will frequently collide for some great small forward battles.
The biggest challenge for the Celtics tonight may be their opponent tomorrow. Boston takes on the rival Lakers tomorrow night on TNT. Looking past opponents has been a tendency for these Celtics. Doc Rivers will need his team zeroed in on tonight’s foe, or Boston will be looking to begin a new win-streak tomorrow rather than extending this current one.
Keys To The Game:
- The Celtics need to keep the ball moving offensively. Even without Rondo the Celtics are averaging 24.8 assists per game during these past four games. In the last game against the Clippers, seven players had at least two assists. With the ball moving on offense, it is making every player on the court a true threat on the offensive end.
- Boston will need to keep Rudy Gay in check. Even though he is overpaid, there is a reason Toronto traded for him, and that is because he can take over games offensively. Jeff Green’s size and athleticism is the perfect matchup against Gay. Earlier this season with Memphis, Gay scored 19 points against Boston in a Grizzlies’ victory.
- Don’t get rattled being away from home. That may sound crazy since there is a good amount of veteran experience, but the Celtics have been awful away from the Garden this season. Boston must come in with a sense of focus and not allow the arena they are playing in to make a difference.
- Boston can’t be looking ahead to tomorrow night. The Celtics take on the Los Angeles Lakers tomorrow in a nationally televised game, but they need to take care of business tonight. Playing down to the level of competition has been a problem for Boston in the past several years.