Any real Toronto Raptors fan will have a special place in their heart for Amir Johnson. I know I do.
At one point Amir accidentally referred to the Raptors as "us" before correcting himself and asking if anyone has questions about Boston
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) January 20, 2016
Tonight, Amir’s Boston Celtics will visit Toronto for the first time this season. The Raptors have won 5 straight games, but will face a tough Celtics team that sits at 22-20. This should be a fun matchup, and while Amir’s return will surely be emotional, the Raptors need to focus on the bigger picture.
So, let’s get to the Cage’s Keys to the Game.
Battle of the guards
Kyle Lowry vs Isaiah Thomas will be a good one. Avery Bradley is also going to likely give DeMar DeRozan a tough time defensively. Like the Raptors, the Celtics strength primarily comes from their backcourt. The Raptors have the edge on paper – they will need to come through on both ends.
Good shots, only
While it should really be common sense by now, the Raptors need to focus on taking good shots and moving the ball. Isolations will lead to bad possessions and turnovers, and that’s what Boston feeds off of. They are 2nd in the NBA in DRTG – in other words, they are a very good defensive team, and mediocre offensively. If the Raptors offense can beat the Boston defense, it will give them a great shot at winning this one.
A lot of this is going to come down to how Dwane Casey handles the rotations. Boston has some versatile players such as Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk that can really create match-up troubles. Casey will have to get creative. Creative and Casey usually don’t go well together, but let’s see…
X-Factor: Terrence Ross
Ross will often be relied upon to lock up one of Boston’s high scoring guards. Offensively, he has been a huge factor from the bench. If he can he solid once again, it will give Lowry and DeRozan a lot of breathing room.