Season Series: Raptors 2-1
While the Toronto Raptors have known for awhile that they’re heading toward the post-season after a five-year post-season drought, a victory against the Boston Celtics on Friday night would make it official.
Either a Raptors victory or a Knicks loss to the Suns will clinch a playoff berth for Toronto. Taking care of business two days ago in Boston, the Raptors will aim to control their own fate once again on Friday night.
“We can’t count on anybody else, but we can take care of our business,” Kyle Lowry said after Wednesday’s victory.
With a 2-½ game lead on the Brooklyn Nets, the Raptors don’t just want to head to the post-season, they want to win the Atlantic Division title (for the first time since 2007) and lock up the third spot in the Eastern Conference. Trying to focus on each game as it comes, completing the home and away sweep against the Celtics is the next task ahead of them.
In Wednesday’s contest, Terrence Ross led the way with 24 points for the Raptors. Kyle Lowry added 23 points and nine rebounds. Rajon Rondo scored nine points, dished a game-high 15 assists and received nine stitches to the forehead after taking an inadvertent elbow from Greivis Vasquez.
What To Watch
Containing Jared Sullinger: This was a point of emphasis prior to Wednesday’s game and remains a key for the Raptors. After Jared Sullinger dominated the Raptors and gave them a 25-point, 20-rebound double-double in Toronto’s late January loss to the Celtics, he led the Celtics in Wednesday’s game with 26 points and eight rebounds off the bench. The sophomore shot 8-for-17 from the floor and connected on four of his six three-point attempts.
Greivis Vasquez off the bench: With Patrick Patterson out of the lineup, Greivis Vasquez had filled in the role of sixth man for the Raptors. Vasquez struggled in Wednesday’s game against the Celtics, shooting just 3-for-10 from the floor. As the team continues to try to be conscious of getting rest for Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, they need Vasquez to shake off the shooting woes from last game and provide a scoring boost off the bench.
The status of Jeff Green: Boston’s Jeff Green was limited to 20 minutes in Wednesday’s game because of a stiff neck. He scored six points on 3-for-9 shooting and recorded two rebounds and a blocked shot before exiting the game. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Green has been battling a stiff neck and “looked miserable” on the court Wednesday night.
– “I’m happy for this organization and I’m happy for the country and the city. We’re just ready to make some noise. It’s been a long time since we’ve been in this situation and we’re just ready and excited to make something happen.” – Amir Johnson on the franchise poised to make the postseason
– “It’s just an opportunity. It’s a blessing to be in this spot. It’s an opportunity now we’ve just got to take the most of that opportunity and capitalize on everything we can do to make sure we get there.” – Terrence Ross on playing in the postseason
– “It’s a little bit of everything. It’s not just one guy. It’s the rhythm of the group. Pat [Patterson] helps that because he does stretch the floor and he is consistent with his shooting. His energy, his toughness, his athleticism, he fills a lot of voids with that second unit. He can help cut down some minutes with that first group. He’s kind of the hub of that second group.” – Dwane Casey on his second unit struggling to score in Patrick Patterson’s absence
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 99, Celtics 90 – Mar. 26th, 2014