Watch It! - Raptors at Celtics
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight night at TD Garden.
Well Rested Celtics
Are you craving Celtics basketball? We can imagine why. Boston has had four consecutive days without a Celtics game since it fell to the Nets on Friday in Brooklyn.
This four-day break should leave the Celtics with a full tank of gas tonight. Brad Stevens gave the team Saturday and Sunday off before the C’s logged back-to-back practices on Monday and Tuesday. They are very well rested, and back-to-back practices typically lead to better execution.
One interesting note to consider is that Boston becomes a better shooting team with every extra day of rest that it receives. It has shot 42.7 percent with no days rest, 43.0 percent with one days rest, 44.6 percent with two days rest, 44.9 percent with three days rest, and 45.8 percent on five days rest. This will be the first time this season in which the C’s will play on four days of rest, and based off of the numbers above, it’s safe to assume that they’ll shoot the ball pretty well.
Toronto’s Recent Rotation
Toronto has turned itself into a contender for a top seed in the East by going 25-16 since the calendar turned over to 2014. The Raptors had held onto the third seed in the East for quite some time before a recent trend slipped them behind the Bulls for the third spot.
The Raptors have rotated between wins and losses over their last five games, resulting in a 2-3 record. They are 2-4 overall in their last six games. Toronto’s recent trend puts them on track for a win tonight after a loss to the Cavs last night in Cleveland. Let’s hope the C’s can buck the Raptors’ trend tonight.
Keep Bradley Rolling
It’s been so long since the Celtics last played that you may have forgotten Avery Bradley’s performance Friday night in Brooklyn. The shooting guard tied his career high with 28 points and scored 18 of them in the second quarter alone.
Friday’s performance was the second consecutive game in which Bradley scored at least 23 points and made at least 60 percent of his shots. It’s critical for the Celtics to keep him rolling tonight in regard to shooting the basketball with efficiency.
Bradley has shot 50 percent from the field and 45.8 percent from 3-point range while participating in 17 wins in this season. On the contrary, he has shot just 41.3 percent from the floor and 33.6 percent from long range during 34 losses. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Celtics will have a much better shot at grabbing a win tonight if Bradley continues to shoot the ball well.
All-Star Caliber Raptors
DeMar DeRozan was the first Raptors player since 2010 to be selected as an All-Star when he was chosen to the East squad this season. And he almost had a partner in crime to go with him.
DeRozan has partnered with Kyle Lowry, whom many consider to be this year’s top All-Star snub in the East, to help make Toronto relevant again. DeRozan is averaging a team-high 22.7 points per game this season while Lowry is putting up 17.6 PPG and 7.8 APG. Here’s what Brad Stevens had to say on Tuesday about each player:
“Kyle Lowry has had a great year and the number of plays that he makes that go unnoticed are pretty amazing. He gets his hands on a lot of balls. He’s very aggressive. He’s a leader. He’s a contagious guy. You can kind of see it how they play. They follow his lead.
“Then you look at a guy like DeRozan, whose numbers have all gone up since we played them last. I think he was 8-for-44 from 3 when we played them last time. Now he’s up at 30 percent and he’s taken 185 of them on the year. So he’s continued to increase.”
These two players will be the top targets of Boston’s defense tonight. The C’s must slow them down in order to win this game.
Boston upended its north-of-the-border rival when these teams last met on Jan. 15. The biggest reason why? Jared Sullinger.
Sullinger went off against Toronto for the first 20-20 game of his career. He finished the contest with 25 points and 20 rebounds and attempted a game-high 14 free throws.
The Raptors simply had no answers for Boston’s young big man. Sullinger was too much on the glass, and his body control and activity level drew a ton of fouls. With that performance in mind, tonight’s contest could be a great opportunity for Sullinger to notch his first double-double since Feb. 21.