Celtics Look to Continue Dominance Over Raptors


Boston Celtics (9-3) at Toronto Raptors (4-9)
Sunday, November 21
1:00 PM ET
Game #13 Away Game #7
Radio:  WEEI, CJCL  

Referees:  Dick Bavetta, Matt Boland,  Brian Forte 

The Celtics are coming off a very uninspired loss to the Thunder at home while the Raptors are coming off a victory over the Rockets.  Both come into this game with one day of rest.  The Celtics are 4-2 on the road while the Raptors are 2-3 at home.  The Celtics have an 8 game win streak over the Raptors, which is the longest for any of their opponents. 

This is the first of 4 meetings for these two teams this season.  They won't have to wait long for a rematch as they will face off again on Friday in Boston.  The Raptors are in the midst of an early season make over as they have agreed to send Jarrett Jack, who has been starting for them, along with Marcus Banks and David Andersen for Peja Stojakovik and Jerryd  Bayless.   I doubt any of those players will be available for this game, which will leave the Raptors short handed. 

The Celtics could also be a bit short handed.  Rondo has a strained hamstring and although he traveled with the team, is considered a game time decision.  The Celtics should be able to beat the Raptors even without Rondo and it may be best to rest him in this one.  If Rondo can't go, Delonte should get the start and Avery Bradley may get to see his first action this season. 

This should be an easy win for the Celtics but they can't take the Raptors for granted because they are short handed or because they expect an easy game.  The Celtics must come out focused and play the Raptors tough or they could be in for a surprise 2 games in a row. 

Probable Starters
PG:  Rajon Rondo 10.9 PPG,  14.9 APG .2.6 SPG
SG:  Ray Allen  18.1 PPG,  2.6 APG, .445 3P%
SF:   Paul Pierce   21.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.7 APG
PF:  Kevin Garnett   15.6 PPG,  10.1 RPG, 0.5 BPG
C:   Shaquille O'Neal   10.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG,  0.3 BPG

Boston Bench Mob
Marquis Daniels
Glen Davis
Semih Erden
Luke Harangody
Delonte West
Nate Robinson
Von Wafer
Avery Bradley

Kendrick Perkins (knee) out
Jermaine O'Neal (knee)  out
Rajon  Rondo (hamstring) game time decision

Probable Starters
PG Jose CalderonSGSFPFC
PG:  Jose Calderon  7.6 PPG, 5.4 APG, 1.0 SPG
SG: DeMar DeRozan 12.9 PPG, 1.7 APG, .125 3P%
SF:  Sonny Weems   14.1 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.1 APG
PF:  Reggie Evans   2.7 PPG, 11.7 RPG,  0.2 PPG
C:  Andrea Bargnani   20.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 0.8 BPG

Raptors Bench
Solomon Alabi
Joey Dorsey
Amir Johnson
Sonny Weems
Julian Wright
Peja Stojakovic
Jerryd Bayless

Ed Davis (knee)  out
Leandro Barbosa (shoulder) probable 

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.  I expect KG to cover Bargnani, who is the Raptors' leading scorer and Shaq to cover Evans, who is their leading rebounder. Both of these matchups should favor the Celtics. 

Honorable Mention
Point Guard Matchup
Rajon Rondo traveled with the team but is a game time decision as to whether he will play.  Delonte should get the start if Rondo can't go.  Avery Bradley may see some action in this game as well.   For the Raptors, their starting point guard was just traded and so Jose Calderon will move back into the starting lineup and they will be thin at that position with the trade going down.  Even without Rondo, the Celtics should be in better shape at this position than the Raptors will be.

Keys to the Game
Rebound - The Celtics were out-rebounded by the Thunder 37-31.  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 second chance points.  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 vs the Thunder and they must avoid these lapses against teams they should beat.  It's a bad habit to get into to play up or down to the competition because by playing down to teams.  This was a problem they had last season and hopefully won't become a problem again this season.

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. 

Odd Fact
They were named the Toronto Raptors following a contest.  The name Raptors was popular after the dino-mania created by the movie Jurassic Park and won over all other submissions.

Injuries and Effort
Rondo, Pierce and KG all suffered injuries of one form or another during the OKC game. KG (goose egg), and Pierce (leg) should both be available but a hamstring injury is something that needs to be taken serious and if Rondo isn't able to go, that is a big problem for the Celtics. Hopefully Delonte would be up to the task of running the offense. However, even if they are all healthy, if they don't give a better effort than they did in their last game, they may be in for an upset.