Celtics Host Raptors Looking to Avenge Loss

Toronto Raptors (6-9) at Boston Celtics (11-4)
Friday, November 26
7:30 PM ET
Game #16, Home Game #8
Radio:  CJCL,  WEEI
TD Garden  

Referees:  Steve Javie,  Zach Zarba,  Gary Zielinski

The Celtics took the short handed Raptors for granted in their last meeting and they got burned.  The Raptors have won their last 4 games and so it would be very wise of the Celtics not to underestimate this team again.

The Raptors won the last game on free throws after a couple of controversial calls from the referees.  It was a game they should have easily won. The Celtics  lacked focus and intensity in that game.  They came out strong and led 31-23 after one quarter but gave up 38 points in the second and had to fight an uphill battle through the rest of the game.  That loss should be enough to motivate the Celtics to a big win in this one.

This game features the NBA’s two best active three-point shooters of all time.   Ray Allen and Peja Stojakovic have combined for over 4,000 three-pointers since they entered the league together during the 1996-97 season.Stojakovic needs four more three pointers to tie Dale Ellis’ mark of 1,719 three pointers made, which ranks third all-time in NBA history. Ray Allen ranks second all-time with 2,479 treys, just 81 short of tying Reggie Miller for all time 3 point leader. 

Probable Starters
PG:  Nate Robinson 7.9 PPG,  2.3 APG 0.1 SPG
SG:  Ray Allen  16.7 PPG,  3.1 APG, .449 3P%
SF:   Paul Pierce   19.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.9 APG
PF:  Kevin Garnett   15.0 PPG,  9.1 RPG, 0.6 BPG
C:   Shaquille O'Neal   11.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG,  0.5 BPG

Boston Bench Mob
Marquis Daniels
Glen Davis
Semih Erden
Luke Harangody
Von Wafer
Avery Bradley

Kendrick Perkins (knee) out
Jermaine O'Neal (knee)  out
Delonte West (wrist)  out
Rajon  Rondo (hamstring) questionable

Probable Starters
PG: Jose Calderon  8.4 PPG, 5.4 APG, 1.0 SPG
SG: DeMar DeRozan 12.1 PPG, 1.7 APG, .111 3P%
SF:  Sonny Weems   13.7 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.0 APG
PF:  Reggie Evans   3.8 PPG, 12.6 RPG,  0.2 PPG
C:  Andrea Bargnani   21.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 0.9 BPG

Raptors Bench
Solomon Alabi
Joey Dorsey
Amir Johnson
Julian Wright
Leandro Barbosa
Jerryd Bayless
Peja Stojakovic
Linas Kleiza

Ed Davis (knee)  out

Key Matchups
Shaquille O'Neal vs Andrea Bargnani

Kevin Garnett vs Reggie Evans

Bargnani doesn't venture inside very much and is more of a finesse center while Reggie Evans plays inside more and is an excellent rebounder.  I expect KG to cover Bargnani, who is the Raptors' leading scorer and Shaq to cover Evans, who is their leading rebounder.

Honorable Mention
Nate Robinson vs Jose Calderon
Nate has the speed to be able to get past Calderon but Calderon has a height advantage.  In their first meeting, Toronto had a shortage of point guards and this time, it's the Celtics with the shortage.     With Rondo probably out again and Delonte now out, Nate is going to have to step up his game.  Either Quisy or Avery Bradley will also have to step up to help handle the point. 

Keys to the Game
Rebound - The rebounding was even the last time these two teams met.   With their size, the Celtics should never be out-rebounded and so it comes down to effort and desire.  The Celtics have got to crash the boards to prevent the Raptors from getting second chance points. Toronto also ranks first in the NBA averaging 20.2 fastbreak points per game.  Crashing the boards will help to limit those fast break opportunities.   Rebounding takes effort and when they aren't winning the battle of the boards, they aren't putting the effort out in other areas either.

Focus - The Celtics clearly lacked focus the last time these two teams played.  The Raptors were short handed and the Celtics played down to their level and got burned.  That alone should provide the motivation to come out focused and put in the effort needed to bring out Gino again.

Defense -  The Celtics must make defense their first priority.  They won the championship with defense and if they win this season, it will be with defense.  They have been playing defense in spurts but they must get back to playing lock down defense from start to finish.  Half way just won't get it done.

Play 48 Minutes
- The Celtics started out strong in the last game between these two teams but they let up in the second quarter, allowing the Raptors to build a big lead in that quarter.  The Celtics have to come out strong and play until the end.   Playing in spurts and expecting to turn it on at the end will result in more losses than wins.

Focus and intensity
If the Celtics come out focused and play with intensity throughout, they will win.   The Raptors have been building confidence and if the Celtics falter they will take advantage of it.