Celtics Host Raptors Looking for 4th Straight Win

Toronto Raptors (12-23) at Boston Celtics (27-7)
Friday, January 7
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #35, Home Game #18
Radio:  CJCL,  WEEI
TD Garden  
Referees:  Ed Malloy,  Pat Fraher,  Mark Lindsay

This is the 4th and final meeting between these two teams this season.  The Raptors won the first game but the Celtics came back to win the next two.  Both teams have had a lot of injuries and both teams will be missing key players in this contest as well.

The Raptors are 3-7 in their last 10 games and are looking to win their second straight game after beagint the Cavs on Wednesday night.  The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 and have won 3 in a row.   The Celtics aer 15-2 at home while the Raptors are 5-13 on the road.

The Celtics have to be careful in this game not to play down to the Raptors' record.   After a tough Spurs game it would be easy to have a let down game and come out slowly against this team.  But regardless of their record, they can be a dangerous team, as we found out in the first game between them.

Probable Starters
PG: Rajon Rondo   10.7 PPG   14.0 APG   2.4 SPG
SG:  Ray Allen   17.5 PPG 3.3 APG .438 3P%
SF:  Paul Pierce 19.0 PPG 5.3 RPG 3.6 APG
PF: Glen Davis 12.6 PPG  5.6 RPG 0.4 BPG
C:   Shaquille O'Neal 10.0 PPG 5.2 RPG 1.0 BPG

Boston Bench Mob
Marquis Daniels
Luke Harangody
Von Wafer
Avery Bradley
Jermaine O'Neal
Semih Erden
Nate Robinson

Kendrick Perkins (knee) out
Delonte West (wrist)  out
Kevin Garnett (calf)  out  

Probable Starters
PG:  Jose Calderon   10.0 PPG, 7,4 APG, 1.3 SPG
SG: DeMar DeRozan 13.8 PPG, 1.7 APG, .095 3P%
SF:  Amir Johnson   8.8 PPG, 6.0 RPG,  1.1 BPG
PF:  Linas Kleiza   12.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.0 APG
C:  Andrea Bargnani    21.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 0.8 BPG

Raptors Bench
Solomon Alabi
Leandro Barbosa
Ronald Dupree
Julian Wright
Ed Davis

Jerryd Bayless (ankle)  questionable
Sonny Weems (back) out
Reggie Evans (foot)  out
Peja Stojakovic (knee)  out 

Key Matchups
Shaquille O'Neal vs Andrea Bargnani
This is where KG is going to be missed.  Neither Shaq nor Big Baby matches up well with Bargnani.  Shaq is not quick enough to shadow him out to the perimeter and Big Baby has a big height disadvantage.  Semih might be our best center to match up with him.

Rajon Rondo vs Jose Calderon
How will Rondo follow up his triple double vs San Antonio?  He should have the advantage over Calderon and if he comes to play may have another big game.

Honorable Mention
Ray Allen vs DeMar DeRozan
Ray had a big game against the Spurs and hopefully can pick up where he left off in that game (minus the free throw misses).  DeRozan is becoming a go to guy for the Raptors and so Ray needs to tire him out by running him off of screens along with making him play defense by hitting his shots.

Keys to the Game
Rebound -  The Celtics have got to crash the boards to prevent second chance points. The Celtics have been out rebounded in 7 straight games now although they were within one rebound of the Spurs.   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.

No Let Down - After a big game like the Celtics had against the Spurs there is always the chance that the Celtics will have a let down game and play down to competition.  The Raptors are not a good team but have already caught the Celtics napping and beat them in their first meeting.  The Celtics should not lose 2 games to this team and need to take this one seriously in spite of the Raptors' record.

Defense -  The Celtics must make defense their first priority in each and every game.  Without KG, they just can't play defense in spurts and expect to turn it on at the end.  They must play strong defense all game.  With the Raptors, they must particularly guard the perimeter as they love to shoot from beyond the arc.  

Control the Paint - The Celtics need to continue to rule the paint on both ends of the court.  They have to continue to take the ball to the hoop and not just depend on jumpers, especially if the jumpers aren't falling.  They have outscored their opponents in the paint in most of their games and they have to continue that trend.  Also they have to defend the paint and not allow easy shots and put backs by the Raptors.  


Trap Game and Home Court
The Celtics have to be very careful not to take this team for granted.  They can't have a let down from Wednesday's big win or they might find themselves splitting the series with the not very good Raptors 2-2 this season.  The Celtics have been doing a good job of protecting their home court and that may be the motivation they need to come out strong against this team.