Tip: 7:30 PM Court: TD Garden Watch it: CSN Hear it: WEEI
Referees: Ken Mauer, Marat Kogut and Michael Smith
Spread: BOS -5.5
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The Boston Celtics have taken the first two against the Toronto Raptors this season. First Rajon Rondo passed his way through their Canadian foes with 20 assists during a 107-89 victory on Nov. 17. Three months later, the Celtics utilized a 30-16 fourth-quarter advantage to eek out a 99-95 victory on Feb. 6. Kevin Garnett led the way with 27 points and 10 rebounds.
Get it to: Brandon Bass
Don’t look now, but we all might be in for another healthy dose of Brandon Bass.
Over his last two games, Bass has been solid. He finished with 6 points, 13 rebounds and 2 blocks during Boston’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. Bass then followed that up with another solid outing last night—10 points, 7 rebounds, one block and 2 steals. In his last three games Bass is 11-of-16 (68.8%) from the field and is averaging 8 points per game.
Furthermore, there’s the recent news that the Raptors’ starting power forward Andrea Bargnani is out for the remainder of the season.
This would be a perfect game to increase Bass’ role in the offense. Especially with Garnett slumping as of late—7-of-29 (24.1%) from the floor during the past two games.
Gotta stop: Amir Johnson
You probably expected to see Rudy Gay here. But with Gay still dealing with a back injury, Johnson is the player the Celtics need to key in on.
Over his last five games, Johnson has been tearing it up. He’s averaging 16.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks over 33.2 minutes per game. Johnson is also shooting 69.2% from the field.
If Boston’s rebounding woes were a banana, Johnson would be the gorilla. He’s put together rebounding efforts of 16 and 15 in the past four games.
Got to keep the banana away from the gorilla.
The Celtics haven’t missed a beat without Rajon Rondo this season. The team has been 14-6 since he departed.
The same can’t be said about Paul Pierce.
Boston looked a mess without Pierce against the lowly Bobcats—an NBA-worst 14-50. It struggled to find good looks and they only finished with 15 assists. Not to mention, they suffered a 26-point loss to the cringe-worthy playing style of Charlotte (still pinching myself to make sure it’s not just a nightmare).
Regardless, the Captain is back and a lot should change.
Pierce averaged 19.5 points per game on 49.1 percent shooting last week. His play earned him a nomination as Eastern Conference player of the week.
How we see it goin’ down
Besides last night’s disaster, the Celtics have been playing good basketball. I don’t expect that to change tonight.
Rivers will have his team ready for the stretch run and one last-ditch effort at claiming the Atlantic Division crown again.
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