The Raptors have had a tough season obviously. Nothing illustrates how tough more than their performances against Boston which have been horrible. First there was a 96-73 loss on January 18th and if you thought that was bad there was the 100-64 embarrassment on February 1st. Both of those games took place in Boston. However, I don't think the venue is the problem as the Raptors have not exactly looked much different at home compared to how they perform on the road. You at least have the fact that this is a second half of a back to back for Boston. The Celtics had to go to overtime at home and lost to the Lakers 88-87. The Lakers are next up on Sunday at the ACC by the way. But one impossible challenge at a time. Rajon Rondo played in that first game and was injured by Linas Kleiza. The second game neither of those guys played. I would suspect with both back it will be a chippy battle at the ACC. Boston is a team that thrives on anything they can find to motivate them. Here are a couple things they will be hot about heading into this one. First will be that injury to Rondo and with him now back in the mix it should be a big night for him. Also the Raptors will have to play Jose Calderon a lot on this night with no Jerryd Bayless it would appear. If Rondo gets matched up on Calderon at any time it is game over. Also for the first time in a long time the Celtics are only sending one player to the All-Star Game in Orlando. That one Celtic is Paul Pierce who has been playing some great basketball of late. But for the players that will not be joining him like Rondo, Ray Allen and K.G expect all of them to perform well.
Obviously with any team coming off a back to back it is vital to get off to a strong start. This is something the Raptors have struggled with. The Raptors in both prior meetings got down early to Boston and the game was essentially over by halftime in both cases. So it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out if the Raptors fail to get the jump on Boston it is going to be a long night. As much as the Raptors have struggled to score, especially against Boston, it is the defence and it's regression that has Dwane Casey concerned. There seems to be a sense that the losing is starting to weigh on this team. Andrea Bargnani not being part of the mix has made the Raptors hard pressed to beat anyone let alone a good team. After a slow start you can consider Boston a good team. They are 8-2 in the last 10 games.
Normally this is where I would give the 3 keys to game. But instead I am going to pass the ball to the guys at the Round Ball Review to do that.
Thanks to the guys for doing the 3 keys to the game. If you have not checked the Round Ball Review out, that is a taste of what you can expect from them when you see them here in the blog. If a game vs the Celtics is not a need for some comic relief I am not sure what is.