Raptors Cage

Game Day Preview: Raptors to visit the steaming Boston Celtics

celtsThe Toronto Raptors are visiting the Boston Celtics tonight at the Garden, as they look for their 49th win, a franchise record, and most wins on the road in a season. The Raptors (48-32) have been on a solid tear recently, trying to reach their first 50-win season in the franchise’s history. On the other hand, the Celtics have clinched a playoff birth, despite being a league-worst 14 games under .500 in December. With the playoffs right around the corner, both teams will be looking to find some momentum going into their first games this weekend. The Raptors will look to maintain their hold on 3rd in the East, so expect them to come out full force.

Amir Johnson was noted as questionable for tonight’s game, as coach Dwane Casey would like to get him some run before the post-season; the aim is for him to be as close to 100%. Brad Stevens is unlikely to rest any of his players, preferably to keep the team in rhythm and with some confidence heading into a likely match-up against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Raptors Cage’s Keys To The Game

1. Grind It Out

The Celtics are a team with a ton of young talent in guys like Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Tyler Zeller, Jared Sullinger, Canadian Kelly Olynyk, and many more. That means energy, endless most of the time. For the Raptors to find success, they have to slow them down, make them have to play in the half-court; all the young bodies on this club, they could run forever.

2. Get In The Paint

There is not a single shot-blocker in the lane, and from the very start, that’ll play a huge plus for guys like DeMar DeRozan, Lou Williams, Kyle Lowry, and of course, Jonas Valanciunas. The Raptors have been finding some recent success in getting to the free-throw line, lead by DeRozan and Lou. Keep up the trend, as it’ll be a huge advantage and help in the post-season.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

3. Run Them Off The Line

This team, despite Boston being a league-worst in three-point percentage, they take some of the most at 13th in the league; they have the ability to win a game in seconds with how streaky this team is. The Raptors have already seen in the past how streaky the Celtics are, with a group of players consistently burning them from outside. Force them to create and make shots at the mid-ranged area, as none of them are a consistent threat from there.

cELEX-Factor: Jonas Valanciunas

I’d like to say DeMar DeRozan for the tear he’s been on, but JV has hit a bit of a wall, with foul trouble and finishing struggles. This is the perfect game for him to find a rhythm, for he’s bigger, longer, and a better defensive anchor than any of the Celtic bigs. Establish him early on inside, and continue to make the effort in finding him in the post and off the roll, for he’ll have the biggest individual match-up this evening.

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