Game Preview: Raptors vs Celtics

Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com

Boston Celtics (37-23) @ Toronto Raptors (44-17)

When: Tuesday, February 26th, 8 P.M. ET

Where: Scotiabank Arena

Leading into tonight’s game:

- Injury report: For the Raptors, Fred VanVleet (left thumb ligament) is out. For the Celtics, Aron Baynes (left foot contusion) is out.

- Streak snapped: Toronto’s seven-game winning streak was snapped on Sunday as the Raptors fell 113-98 to the Orlando Magic. The loss was just the second in Toronto’s previous 16 games played at Scotiabank Arena. Tuesday’s game will be the fifth in a six-game homestand that will conclude on Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers.

- Recent history: Tuesday’s game will also be the final regular-season meeting between the Raptors and Celtics. Through three games, Boston owns a 2-1 series lead, most recently defeating the Raptors 117-108 in Boston on Jan. 16 behind a 27-point, 18-assist performance from Kyrie Irving. The 18 assists were a career-high for Irving, who scored 10 points in the fourth quarter as he propelled a 17-4 run by the Celtics to take over and close the game. Kawhi Leonard led the Raptors with 33 points and Serge Ibaka added 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Raptors in the loss. While the Raptors are looking to get back in the win column after Sunday’s loss, the Celtics are doing the same. Tuesday’s game is the first for Boston since falling 126-116 against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.

Extra Assists

- Shining debut: The Raptors announced they signed Jodie Meeks to a 10-day contract on Feb. 20. He made his Raptors debut on Sunday, playing 17 minutes against the Magic. He wasted little time showing he can put the ball in the basket. with ease  “Stepping on the court last night was kind of second nature,” he said. “It felt good to be out there again with my teammates knocking down a few shots.” Meeks scored 10 points in eight minutes when he first came off the bench in the second quarter, shooting 4-for-5 from the floor and 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. “That was almost like a magical performance,” Nick Nurse said. “His first half was unbelievable.”

- Assist man: Kyle Lowry recorded his 16th double-double of the season against the Magic, finishing with a team-high 19 points and 10 assists. Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook is the only player averaging more assists per game this season. Lowry is also on a hot-shooting streak from deep. He has made a team-high 25 three-pointers through seven games played in February, shooting 45 percent from beyond the arc.

- Constant improvement: Pascal Siakam also had a double-double on Sunday, finishing with 10 points and a team-high 11 rebounds against the Magic. This was Siakam’s 14th double-double of the season, after never recording a double-double in either of his first two seasons prior to this year. Siakam is averaging 16.1 points per game this year, more than doubling his 7.3 point-per-game average of a season ago. He has scored at least 20 points 17 times this year, something he had accomplished just once in his first two NBA seasons, and he has set a new career-high in scoring seven times this year, most recently in a 44-point performance against the Washington Wizards.

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