Can the Boston Celtics continue this run of form against the 5-6 Toronto Raptors?
The Boston Celtics have made it four consecutive wins following their most recent victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, a victory that left Joel Embiid with a confession that surely left a bitter taste in his mouth. Even with a weakened lineup, due to unfortunate injuries to star players Brown and Porzignis, the Celtics managed to play with as much heart and determination as anyone could have asked for. This win will surely have skyrocketed the confidence levels in the Celtics locker room.
When two of the main stars get injured before a game of this magnitude, it is crucial for those who are playing to step up - and step up they did. With Al Horford's 14 points, five blocks, and eight rebounds, Jrue Holidays' 18 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks, and one steal, and the stellar showing from Jayson Tatum and Derrick White, who scored 29 and 27 respectively, the Celtics shown the world how dangerous they are even when missing two of their star players. Embiid might be right.
Sam Hauser looks likely to receive a starting role yet again in light of Brown's injury and as my Hardwood Houdini colleague Caden Charpentier put it, "He's making a difference on both ends". Making a difference he most certainly is and these minutes are just the thing that Hauser needs, giving himself a chance to prove to those remaining doubters that he is a capable option.
Boston Celtics Predicted Lineup
PG: Derrick White
SG: Jrue Holiday
SF: Sam Hauser
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Al Horford
Brown and Porzingis both remain questionable for Friday nights clash with the Toronto Raptors, leaving the team with a similar mountain to climb. Can the Celtics repeat the result they managed against the Sixers? An unchanged line up might be their best strategy if they are to secure another victory.
Can the Toronto Raptors capitalize on the injured Celtics stars?
The Toronto Raptors lost by 23 points against a full-strength Boston Celtics side only a week ago, with their opponents now facing injury difficulties, can they capitalize on that by securing a victory?
If they are to secure the win on Friday night, Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam will be looked at to be the main reason why. Both men struggled in their last clash with the Celtics, scoring only 17 and 10 respectively - although that is not a clear indicator of the talent they both possess. Barnes in particular has excelled this season, cementing his name in the Most Improved Player conversations, and rightfully so.
Barnes 2022-23: 15.3 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.1 SPG, and 0.8 BPG
Barnes 2023-24 (so far): 20.9 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 5.7 APG, 1.7 SPG, and 1.6 BPG
If Barnes and Siakam perform at the level anticipated by both themselves and Toronto fans, the Celtics will be in for a tough game on Friday night. However, the boys from Beantown have already displayed their resilience in their victory over the Sixers which showcased Boston's adaptability. This game has all the makings of a thrilling watch.
Toronto Raptors Predicted Lineup
PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Scottie Barnes
SF: Gradey Dick
PF: Pascal Siakam
C: Jakob Poeltl
Boston Celtics: Al Horford – Probable – Left big toe sprain
Boston Celtics: Kristaps Porzingis – QUESTIONABLE – Right knee contusion
Boston Celtics: Jaylen Brown – QUESTIONABLE – Non-covid illness
Toronto Raptors: Christian Koloko - OUT - Illness
Toronto Raptors: OG Anunoby - QUESTIONABLE - Finger
Toronto Raptors: Gary Trent Jr. - QUESTIONABLE - Foot
Boston Celtics 115, Toronto Raptors 106