1/7/11

No More Celtics Hip Hip Hooray

Yes this is the last time the Raptors will likely see the Boston Celtics this season. Seems odd to say on January 7th but such is the NBA Schedule. They have already improved on their performance from last year against them with a win in three tries so far. Last season the Raptors with Chris Bosh were swept by the Celtics 4 to 0. All that being said the Raptors chances tonight in Boston look pretty bleak despite a come from behind blow out of the Cavs. Jerryd Bayless and Sonny Weems remain out. Bargnani and Johnson will go tonight for Toronto. Jose Calderon is going to play as well with Bayless on the shelf. The suggestion seems to be if Bayless was healthy Calderon would not be playing. Meanwhile in Boston they remain with out K.G, while Kendrick Perkins is still about a month away from playing. The Raptors should feel fortunate they will not seen Perkins, and to a large degree have not seen Boston at full capacity even minus him in all 4 games. Be it Rondo or K.G being out the Raptors have never faced the Celtics full blast this year.

The Basics: Toronto 12-23 ( 4-5 vs Atlantic Division) Boston 27-7 ( 21-4 vs East )

When Last We Saw Them: We saw the Raptors start slow allowing the Cavs to shoot 66.7% in 1st and take a 15 point lead. Only to see Julian Wright spark the charge back and the Raptors would eventually win by 15. Jose Calderon was excellent with 20 points and 17 assists and Bargnani looked good as well scoring 20+ points and leading the team in scoring on the night. Were the Cavs just that bad or did the Raptors play that good in final 3 quarters? It is one of those questions where the answer might be both.

Key Match-Ups: As good as Jose was vs the Cavs, Rondo is even better than that coming into this one off a triple double with 12 points 22 assists and 10 rebounds, vs the best team in league record wise in the Spurs. That is a little different from tearing apart the hopeless and Lebronless Cavs. Not to mention traditionally Rondo has always got the better of Calderon. Big Baby and Amir Johnson should be good to watch. Make Glen Davis a jump shooter and you should be ok. Davis has really come a long way but much like a Kris Humphries did in his Raptor days, Big Baby tends to forget he is not the 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd option on offence. Last but not least is Paul Pierce, who in the last meeting with the Raptors less than 7 days ago was pretty spectacular. Linas Klezia has his hands full or whoever they end up sticking on him. After saying all of this watch Ray Allen light up Demar DeRozan with about 6 makes from 3 point range. Allen has always been a tough match up for Dematr. The only advantage the Raptors have is Bargnani on Shaq or J.O it is no contest if Bargnani takes them away from the basket.

Other Things of Note: After a pretty nice honeymoon in Boston things may be going sour for Shaq. Jermaine O'Neal has been the O'Neal getting more minutes of late. A healthy J.O provides the Celtics a better defensive option. Although this story in the Boston Herald has a lot of quotes of people all saying the right things in terms of Shaq. I said at the start of the year that once Perkins came back you were going to have at least one unhappy O'Neal. I was just figuring it would be Jermaine and not Shaq. While our DNB Intern Ryan banged out his first piece in the blog yesterday. Talking about how Demar DeRozan is not getting the love he may deserve from the NBA. He isn't getting much love from the officials as well taking a knock on the head and staying down still did not warrant him a trip to the line. But Demar remains consistent in his effort to drive and draw contact. You just hope he starts to be rewarded in the way that a guy like say Paul Pierce does eventually. Demar was left out of the dunk contest and if he does not crack the sophomore line-up for the Rookie Challenge safe to say the Raptors will have no representation at the All-Star Game at all. Been a long time since that happened, as Bosh was a given to be an All-Star by the end of his time here.

Where is it on? TSN (Sources have informed me that World Junior Hockey Tournament has ended making this possible. Those same sources confirmed the Russians have finally left Buffalo)

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