Game 16: Celtics vs. Raptors
|(11-4, 6-1 home)||-- vs. --||(6-9, 2-6 away)|
GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)
The Boston Celtics will see a different Toronto Raptors squad than it did just five days ago.
They hope the result will be different, too.
Boston hosts Toronto on Friday night looking to end the new-look Raptors' four-game winning streak and avenge its last defeat in the process.
The Celtics, however, may have to do it without Rajon Rondo, who sat out his third straight game Wednesday with a strained hamstring. Depth behind the star point guard took a hit as well when Delonte West broke his right wrist in the 89-83 win against New Jersey.
"It's going to be a long time. Let's put it that way," coach Doc Rivers said of West's injury.
If Rondo can't go, Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels are expected to share the point guard duties.
With Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen struggling to find their scoring touch, the Celtics (11-4) leaned on 38-year-old Shaquille O'Neal to provide the spark against the Nets.
O'Neal scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, going 9 for 10 from the field. It was his first 25-point game since scoring 26 on March 18, 2009, while playing for Phoenix -- a stretch of 76 games. He's averaging 13.3 points and 7.4 rebounds over his last seven games.
"I know people appreciate my hard work," O'Neal said. "This is a great team. Best team I've been on. We've got a lot, a lot of weapons. Anybody on this team can be the leading scorer."
Garnett tied a season low with eight points and Allen was held under 20 for the sixth consecutive game, which hasn't happened since Dec. 3-18 when he failed to reach that mark in seven straight.
"I told him he looked like the 2000 Shaq," Garnett said. "He definitely was the target tonight. We rode him."
Read the full preview HERE.
FORSBERG'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH
- Rated PG?: With Rajon Rondo likely to sit out one more game (due in large part to three more days of rest looming) and Delonte West sidelined with the broken right wrist, the Celtics could be without their two best ball-handlers. Nate Robinson would make his fourth straight start and has done well with the starters, but the key is Marquis Daniels' ability to run the offense with the second unit. He was brilliant in emergency minutes Wednesday night after West got hurt at the end of the first half and the Celtics are likely to lean on him heavy moving forward.
- Wafer's shot: While the Celtics were able to get by without West at the start of the season, the additional absence of Rondo would mean Von Wafer would get more time on the wing with the second unit. Wafer put together his five best minutes in Green Wednesday, showing some tenacious defense, and that's going to earn him Doc Rivers' confidence. That means more court time, which could allow his offense to come naturally.
- No motivation needed: After Toronto caught Boston sleepwalking last week north of the border, it's unlikely the Green need any additional motivation to play a sub-.500 opponent (though Friday nights at home have been no given for the Celtics). Boston allowed the Raptors to enjoy what amounted to a defense-less second quarter last week and can't allow similar lapses Friday night.
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