Pregame Post-Ups: C’s Look to Avoid Trap Game vs. Depleted Raptors

Thursday, March 4 - Raptors at Celtics

Pregame – C’s Look to Avoid Trap Game vs. Depleted Raptors

The Boston Celtics must be careful not to fall into a trap Thursday night because their matchup against the Toronto Raptors has “trap game” written all over it.

Boston is riding a three-game win streak into its final game before the All-Star break, which will feature a visiting Toronto team that is playing on the second night of a back-to-back and missing three of its top five scorers along with its head coach.

OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and coach Nick Nurse are all absent due to the NBA’s Health and Safety protocols, leaving Toronto extremely shorthanded. However, the Celtics know from recent experience that even a depleted Raptors team is a tough Raptors team.

Just last season, on Dec. 28, 2019, the Raptors came to Boston without three of their top seven scorers in Siakam, Norman Powell, and Marc Gasol, yet they still managed to upset the Celtics in blowout fashion, 113-97.

“They were decimated by injuries on a back-to-back and they came in here and killed us,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens recalled ahead of Thursday night’s tip-off. “So if there’s any need for extra talk about that, any team with Kyle Lowry and the culture and the way that those guys play and the aggressiveness with which they play, our guys know that we’re going to have to play well to win.”

The key to playing well and winning this game is for Boston to focus on itself in the moment, and not on the Raptors and what they are missing. This means that the C’s need to ignore the hype of their longest winning streak in two months, and simply focus on playing a complete game regardless the circumstances.

“I think part of being good in this league is being able to move on from what happened, whether it was bad or good,” Stevens said, alluding to his team’s successful stretch. “I think that you can feel a lot different about yourself week to week depending on how things are going but that can change pretty quickly. I haven’t focused a ton on it, I’ve mentioned it. But, yeah, our focus all week has been to be together and play good basketball. And we’ve done that, played good basketball for portions of games. We haven’t done it for 48 minutes yet. So I’m hopeful that we can get a little closer to that.”

If the Celtics can play close to 48 minutes of good basketball, then they shouldn’t face the possibility of falling into trap against Toronto, which they hope to avoid as the look to enter the All-Star break on a high note.

- Taylor Snow

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