Tip: 7;30 pm Court: TD Garden Watch it: CSN Hear it: WEEI
Referees: Derrick Stafford, Karl Lane, Tommy Nunez Jr.
The Celtics and Raptors played four times last year with the Celtics winning three of those matchups.
Get it to: Paul Pierce
Same story. Paul Pierce is the only guy on this team who can really manufacture his own shot from anywhere on the floor. Let's keep feeding this guy so we can get the most out of what has become a glorified preseason. And in the worst case scenario, you're spotlighting Paul Pierce for a potential trade (I'm kidding… I'm kidding).
Get Paul the ball… get him back into the flow… and then we can focus on at least spreading the ball around some more and getting Ray back into things.
Gotta stop: Jose Calderon
Following the formula, the opposing point guard is still the must-stop. Calderon is 3rd in the league in assists, so it's not like this isn't a legit choice. His distribution is a lot like Rondo's. He's almost as likely to find someone at the rim as he is to find a long range shooter. That means (a) he's penetrating, (b) he's seeing the floor really well and (c) he's got guys who can finish all over the floor. The Raptors will be without Andrea Bargnani, so packing the lane would be advisable considering Toronto is already 22nd in 3pt FG%.
The Wild Card: Amir Johnson
Just keep this guy off the boards, ok? He's grabbing more than 8 boards a game but his rebounding rate isn't great at 18.4%. In fact, it's much lower than KG's (22.7) and even Brandon Bass' (19.2). If the Celtics let the 6'9" Johnson dominate the glass, then we've got a much bigger problem than any of us thought.
How we see it goin' down
You want the ugly part of this first? Ok. This is a matchup of two 4-win teams on 5-game losing streaks.
I'll give you a minute.
The Celtics have a habit of playing down to a bad team's level, especially when those bad teams are missing a star player. But I'm torn between this team's history, and this team's need to work things out, develop some offensive cohesion, and work older players back into shape.
So I'm going to go with the latter at my own risk. Not that I think this will be a clinic by any means. No, this will still be sloppy and slow. These are two of the slowest, lowest scoring teams in the NBA. But the Celtics will have an edge defensively without Bargnani on the floor. The other options for Toronto may be Aaron Gray or Jamaal Magliore… and neither is going to bring much to the table.
The Celtics half court offense will still struggle, but Toronto's offense will be much worse. The Celtics will actually hold their own on the boards and they'll get some good open shots in transition to make up for it. I'll be shocked if the Raptors hit 80 points tonight. Gino dances at the Garden tonight in a 94-77 win.