Wednesday, March 26, 2014
W2W4: C's vs. Raptors (Game 71 of 82)
By Chris Forsberg
The Boston Celtics (23-47, 15-21 home) host the Toronto Raptors (39-31, 18-17 away) on Wednesday night at TD Garden. Here's what to watch for:
- BACK TO WORK: The Celtics are well rested after a four-day break since Friday's loss in Brooklyn. The Celtics play 12 more games over the final three weeks of the 2013-14 season. What will Stevens be looking for from his players? "I think you’re judging them on how efficient they are in the minutes they play. I think that’s the most important thing – is how productive are you when you’re on the court. I think that we’ve continued to have pretty good spirit amongst us, which is good. And we’ve seen some increase in production from certain guys. I think we probably get too caught up in talking about young guys, because we’ve got a lot of guys that aren’t old that are also on contract here and will hopefully be apart of us as we move toward the future as well."
- COACH'S SCOUTING REPORT: Celtics coach Brad Stevens was asked if he was surprised that Toronto remains atop the Atlantic Division this late in the season. The Raptors own a 1.5-game lead over the surging Nets as the two jockey for middle seeds in the Eastern Conference. "I think Brooklyn is obviously rising quickly, but Toronto is a really good basketball team. I think Kyle Lowry has had a great year. The number of his plays that he makes that go unnoticed are really amazing. He gets his hands on a lot of balls. He’s very aggressive. He’s a leader. He’s a contagious guy. You can kind of see it in how they play. They follow his lead. I probably have a better feel for that now than when in January when we played them the second time. I think he’s really made a huge impact on them. Then you look at a guy like [DeMar] DeRozan, whose numbers have all gone up since we played them last. I think he was 8-for-44 from 3 when we played them last time. And now he’s up to 30 percent and he’s taking 185 on the year. He’s continued to increase. Ross is a guy that’s very capable. I think their frontline is probably way underrated with [Amir] Johnson and [Jonas] Valanciunas and [Patrick] Patterson, who’s out, and [Tyler] Hansbrough’s back. They have all kinds of guys who can really play. It doesn’t surprise me where they are. It’s a nice team and it fits well together."
- LOOSE BALLS: The Celtics and Raptors play a home-and-home series with Boston visiting Toronto on Friday night. The two teams have split the season series to this point with each team winning at home. ... The Raptors, 5-5 in their last 10, are trying to avoid their 12th consecutive loss in Boston. ... STATS LLC notes: "The Raptors have dropped 20 of 22 in Boston, including 11 straight by an average of 15.2 points. Their last road win over the Celtics came Jan. 23, 2008." ... Jared Sullinger on playing the same team twice in a row: "“One thing I do like is the scouting report doesn’t change, so you don’t have to think about another team. That’s the beauty of it. When we play Toronto again, I don’t think too much is going to change besides our defensive strategies, but other than that we are going to know the play calls. Win or lose, we don’t have to think about the next team we play, we just know that we play Toronto, watch the game film and do your analysis from there.”
(Read full game preview)