Raptors Host Celtics in Atlantic Division Clash
Posted Dec 1 2006 1:24PM
NBA.com Daily Confidential
The Toronto Raptors will likely be glad to get back home, if only for a brief stay.
The Raptors look to continue their strong play at Air Canada Centre Friday when they meet the Boston Celtics.
Toronto (5-10) is coming off Wednesday's 117-98 loss to red-hot Dallas. It was the eighth road game in 10 contests for the Raptors, who went 3-7 during the stretch - including 1-7 away from home.
Toronto is just 1-8 on the road this season, but has won four of six at home. The Raptors' schedule won't get any easier after Friday, as they play five of the next six away from home.
A game at Air Canada Centre could also help the Raptors beat a Boston team that has dominated them in recent years. The Celtics have won nine of the last 11 games in the series, but both of Toronto's wins over that span have come on its home court.
Still, the Celtics (5-9) have won three of their last five in Toronto.
Chris Bosh, who leads the Raptors with 20.5 points and 12.3 rebounds, had 18 points and 11 boards Wednesday against the Mavericks. T.J. Ford, second on the team with 14.7 points per contest, added 18 for Toronto, which was playing for the second straight night on the road and never held a lead.
``You come out and the mind is willing but the legs just won't follow,'' coach Sam Mitchell said. ``We talked about going into the half getting the lead down to 10, and we did, we just couldn't sustain it.''
Raptors swingman Morris Peterson missed his fifth straight game with a torn tendon in his left elbow. Peterson is fifth on the team in scoring with 12.3 points a game.
The Celtics have dropped three of their last four, including Wednesday's 106-103 defeat to New Jersey. Paul Pierce scored a game-high 31 points and Wally Szczerbiak added 25 for Boston, which is opening a stretch of five road games in seven contests.
Pierce was visibly annoyed when Szczerbiak drove baseline with 3 seconds left and the Celtics trailing by three points. Szczerbiak, who lost the ball out of bounds, apologized to coach Doc Rivers after the play.
``That was an awful loss,'' Rivers said. ``We had so many opportunities down the stretch, but when you are begging for a 3 at the end of the game, you've put yourself in a tough position to begin with.''
The Celtics have scored in triple digits in five of their last seven games, winning all but one of those contests.
Wednesday's loss dropped Boston out of first place in the mediocre Atlantic Division. Toronto is in last place, but is only a half-game back of the Celtics and one game behind the first-place Nets.
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