Game Preview: Huskies vs. Celtics

Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com

The Boston Celtics are in Toronto to take on the Raptors on Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors won the previous meeting between the two teams, but have dropped two straight and are eager to get back on the winning side of things as they play their second game in a four-game homestand.

Tip-off: 7:30 P.M. ET

Broadcast Info: SN1 / SN590

TALKING POINTS

A look back at the last time

The Raptors collected a 101-94 road win against the Celtics on Dec 9 behind a huge second-half effort from Kyle Lowry. After trailing by eight at break, Lowry scored 21 of his 34 points in the second half to help the Raptors make their comeback. He scored 14 during a key 21-3 run in the third quarter when the Raptors made their move. He had help, too, as DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points and Norman Powell, starting in place of DeMarre Carroll scored 20 points and had a career-high six steals as the Raptors turned up their defence and watched the offence flourish because of it.

The Celtics were without Isaiah Thomas in the first matchup, but the point guard is expected to play on Tuesday. The Celtics announced that they will be without Tyler Zeller (illness), Avery Bradley (Achilles) and James Young (ankle) in Toronto.

Thomas is averaging 28 points and 6.1 assists per game, while Al Horford is averaging 15.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists a contest. Thomas is fifth in the league in scoring, trailing just Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, James Harden and DeMarcus Cousins. DeMar DeRozan is sixth, averaging 27.8 points per game.

Starting and finishing strong

After dropping their previous two games in disappointing fashion, the Raptors are ready to close out a game properly. Toronto led by 19 points against the Chicago Bulls late in the third quarter, before a Jimmy Butler flurry led to a frustrating overtime loss. The following day, in a back-to-back on their home floor, the Raptors led by 13 against the Houston Rockets before giving up a 68-point second half, allowing the Rockets to open the fourth on a 15-0 run where the took over the game. The Raptors are keen to ensure this doesn’t become a pattern.

“It won't be a trend,” DeMar DeRozan said. “It just sucks in the moment, especially two nights in a row. We've just got to lock in. We can make a million excuses, but it's not about that, it's just about us understanding key moments in the game where we've got to pick it up and realize we've got to play much harder as a team and keep fighting, no matter who we're playing.”

Although Toronto has pieced together stretches of solid basketball on both ends of the floor, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey wants to see that effort for the full 48 minutes.

Lineup changes

Patrick Patterson returned to the court on Sunday after missing the previous four games with a strained left knee. Although his return was a welcomed one, it still didn’t signal the return of the team’s usual rotation. Dwane Casey decided to tweak with his starting five, inserting Norman Powell alongside DeMarre Carroll, Jonas Valanciunas, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.

As the team continues to look for consistency with respect to getting off to solid starts, the starting five could be dictated by the opponent being faced each night. Casey said that Patterson was playing on a minutes restriction on Sunday, but the decision to put Powell in the starting lineup was an attempt to limit Houston’s three-pointers.

“It is going to be a liquid situation,” Casey said. “Fluid situation with who starts that position.”

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