Tonight, the Toronto Raptors will take on an Atlantic division foe as the Boston Celtics are in town. Emotions will be running high as former fan favourite, Amir Johnson, returns to the Air Canada Centre.
While the Raps boast All-Star guards, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, Boston has an All-Star guard of their own in Isaiah Thomas. A day after St Patrick’s Day and the boys from the Six are hoping that the Celtics aren’t feeling the luck of the Irish. Let’s take a look at Cage’s Keys to the Game!
No Right to Pass
The Celtics average almost 25 assists per game, good for fifth-best in the league. Toronto, on the other hand, averages 18.5 assists per game, which is better than only one team. If the Raps are going to beat Boston tonight, they must anticipate passes and intercept the passing lanes.
The Celtics aren’t an elite long-range team by any means. They shoot a fourth-worst 33.2 percent from beyond the arc. This means if the Dinos can limit any offensive opportunities from within the arc and inside the paint, they will have forced Boston to generate offense elsewhere.
Get to the Line
Throughout the success the Raptors have achieved this season, getting to the free throw line is among the key factors. Toronto excels at getting to the charity stripe at a rate of 27 times per game. Another very important aspect that works in Toronto’s favour is the fact that Boston fouls the second most in the league at 22.3 times per game. If the Raptors can take advantage of the Celtics’ physical play by getting to the line, the offence will come easily.
X-Factor: DeMar DeRozan
The Celtics starting line up will comprise three guards as Marcus Smart will get the start at small forward. This means he will be matching up with DeMar DeRozan. It’s going to be interesting to see how DeRozan will do against the smaller and quicker Smart. However, DeMar has never backed down from a challenge before and if he is able to keep up with his Celtics counterpart tonight, the Raps should be able to get a W.