Game Preview: Raptors at Celtics
After an overtime victory at home against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Raptors are in Boston to take on the Celtics. With Toronto weathering injuries and a rough stretch including a five-game losing streak, the Celtics have edged into second place in the Eastern Conference, a ½ game ahead of the Raptors.
Tip-off: 7:30 P.M. ET
Broadcast Info: SN1 / TSN1050
DeRozan expected to sit
DeMar DeRozan is not expected to suit up for the team in Boston after missing Tuesday’s game because of a sprained ankle. DeRozan sustained the injury on Jan. 22 in a loss to the Phoenix Suns and missed three games before returning for Sunday’s game against the Orlando Magic.
Prior to Tuesday’s victory against the Pelicans, Dwane Casey told the media that DeRozan wasn’t going to play against the Pelicans or against the Celtics, but the team has not officially announced an update to his status.
Lowry leading the way
Kyle Lowry was brilliant in Toronto’s victory against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday. Scoring 26 of his 33 points in the second half and overtime, Lowry was there when his team needed him, time and again. After the game, he was asked about having to carry a bigger load when DeMar DeRozan is resting.
“It’s my job,” Lowry said.” It’s my job. My teammates count on me, my coaches count on me. It’s what I do. I get paid to play basketball for a living and I’m going to do it to the best of my abilities and I can take the pressure and handle it. I enjoy it.”
Because Lowry plays so intensely on both ends of the court, he often ends up on the floor more often than his coaching staff would like. Although he is generally quick to bounce right back up immediately after taking a hit, Dwane Casey discussed the toughness of his point guard after Tuesday’s game.
“He hits the floor, he’s going into the stands, gets knocked down going to the basket,” Casey said. “He’s a tough guy, he’s a Philly kid and he’s going to bounce up. He probably should have been a running back for the Eagles, they could probably use him a little bit. He’s one of the toughest kids I’ve been around.”
Stepping up the defence
After giving up 60 points at the half to the New Orleans Pelicans, the Raptors were frustrated with themselves on Tuesday night. It was the second consecutive game where they’d given up 60 points in the first half. Toronto has spent weeks discussing defensive intensity and after failing to slow the Pelicans in the first half, the mood was somber in the locker room at the break.
“We were all just down and out of it,” Kyle Lowry said. “But DeMarre Carroll came out in that second half with some energy and I give a lot of that credit for the game win to him. ... small intangibles, activity was amazing [on Tuesday].”
Along with Carroll, Patrick Patterson and Norman Powell each played a role in the victory. Patterson was a +21 in a two-point victory, while Powell played fantastic defence on Jrue Holiday down the stretch. Powell said the team’s effort in the second half is an example of what the Raptors can do when they’re locked in.
“I think it shows how we can play,” Powell said. “Coming out of half, DC, the energy that he brought, the energy I brought on defence, Kyle, Lucas, JV, Pat, that’s the way we need to play. Now we just need to carry that over into the game [on Wednesday] and focus on locking that in for the start of the first half, not just the second.”
For Patterson, it is the beginning of what needs to be done, but it was a step forward nonetheless.
“It's improvements,” Patterson said. “We made our stride in the right direction, we still have a long way to go, but overall, defensive-wise, in the second half, we got stops when we needed to down the stretch. It's an improvement.”