Season Series: Raptors 1-1
After a string of slow starts the Toronto Raptors got burned Tuesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Clawing back from a terrible first half, they were a botched final possession away from tying or winning the game.
With three weeks remaining in the regular season, showing up for anything less than 48 minutes isn’t good enough. Losing to the Cavaliers without Kyrie Irving is a good wake-up call for a team fighting to finish the season in the third spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Raptors won’t have any time to dwell on their performance in Cleveland. Facing a rested Boston Celtics squad with Rajon Rondo in uniform, Wednesday’s game will be anything but a guaranteed win. Toronto will need to be ready when the ball goes up.
What To Watch
Free throws: Toronto’s 78-percent mark from the free throw line is eighth in the league. Against the Cavaliers, the Raptors missed 10 of their 26 attempts at the line. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined to connect on just 6-for-14 attempts. As teams try to clean up all of the little things down the stretch of the regular season, Toronto hopes last night’s game was an aberration.
Containing Jared Sullinger: In Toronto’s last meeting with Boston, an 88-83 loss, sophomore Jared Sullinger dominated the Raptors and gave them a 25-point, 20-rebound double-double. He added four assists and two steals for good measure. The Raptors will need to be aware of where Sullinger is, especially on the offensive glass. In January’s meeting, eight of those 20 rebounds were offensive.
Coming out with energy: A no-brainer, but after Tuesday’s loss to the Cavaliers, it’s crucial that the Raptors get off to a strong start in Wednesday night’s game. Regardless of who their opponent is, or how many times they’ve been able to use strong fourth quarters to pull out a victory, this is not the way a team that hopes to have postseason success can operate. It’s one thing to talk about being aware of needing to kill slow starts. It’s another to actually do it.
“As a coaching staff, we’ve been harping on how hard these next 13 games are going to be (and) how physical teams are going to be no matter where they are in the schedule. It’s easy to get up for OKC, it’s easy to get up for Miami and it’s easy to get up for Indiana, but the teams that are not in the playoff picture, they’re playing for something too. We’ve got to get the mindset of being the hunter and not the hunted.” – Raptors head coach Dwane Casey on his team’s remaining games
– “We should have done a better job on that final play, but we couldn’t buy a shot. There are so many different things, as a team, that we have to get better at. We can’t really panic. We have another opportunity tomorrow.” – Greivis Vasquez, after the loss to the Cavaliers
– “We’ve got to start the games off better than that. We can’t do that anymore. We can’t ease our way into games like that. We’ve got to come out with fire…We have to find ways to flip it, try to get it done early and maintain it throughout the game.” – Kyle Lowry on needing to have better starts
Raptors: Kyle Lowry (G), DeMar DeRozan (G), Terrence Ross (F), Amir Johnson (F), Jonas Valanciunas (C)
Celtics: Rajon Rondo (G), Avery Bradley (G), Jeff Green (F), Brandon Bass (F), Kris Humphries (C)
Raptors: Patrick Patterson – right ulnar collateral sprain (out)
Celtics: Vitor Faverani – torn MCL, Left Knee (out), Gerald Wallace – left knee, Left ankle arthroscopies (out)
By The Numbers: Raptors vs. Celtics
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Last Time They Met: Raptors 83, Celtics 88 – Jan. 15th, 2014