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3 in the Key - Raptors' Pre-Season Preview vs. Celtics

There's a lot to like from Preseason Game One, but with the Raptors doing the dance with the Celtics yet again, the Raptors will need to bring more of the same to stay competitive. Kinnon Yee takes a look at what's in store for the Raptors.

Wait, didn't we just do this?

Well, with the NBA schedule being what it is, the Raptors now are in Boston, Sportsnet isn't hosting this preseason game, and luckily, since it's in Boston, the Raptors' weird 3D optical illusion will be nowhere to be found (still our "great" secret).

But for me, I think this game is going to be a great test for these Raptors.

After all, it's one thing to execute what you want defensively in the first game, at home, but with the Raptors on the road, it's going to take another level of discipline and concentration.

Yup, those two things that young players always have trouble with, which will be the true test for Dwayne Casey. Whether he can get the Raptors to embrace a pattern of playing with good defense every night, even in tough loses, is going to do wonders for our Raptors and hopefully will change the cycle we've been on for so long.

However, if the Raptors start to do too well, is that going to be a concern?

Well, not for preseason anyways.

I'm firmly with the crowd that wants our Raptors team to do well (so we have tradeable assets), but at the end of the day, I still hope that this Raptors team will finish in a good lottery position. But for now, having an entertaining team which fights hard but comes up short is the perfect situation.

And getting the team to start to play defense is going to go a long way towards establishing what this team will be about over Dwayne Casey's reign.

So in this early preseason, what I'd like to see from the Raptors is that they're establishing their core beliefs and what they've preached in this very shot preseason time. Most of the keys that I'd like to focus on are centered around keeping a consisted defensive scheme.

1) Andrea's Rebounds - With the stated mission being that Andrea Bargnani get two rebounds per quarter, having him continue this today is pretty important to me. The Raptors got nine from Bargs the other day, with three on the offensive side. Seeing him continue this even if the Raptors start to shoot better, will give us a better indication about just how dedicated he'll be this year to finally turn things around. I'd also like to see him be more aggressive against the Celtic starters, although that won't be up to him.

2) Production from the Small Forward Position - There just can't be another day of ugliness from the Small Forward position. While James Johnson gave us some highlight reel moments on the defensive side, offense from the position was very suspect.

3) Play a Complete Game - I know the Raptors made it interesting in the end, but their comeback was predicated on playing against the Celtics bench. Getting the same effort against an aging Boston first unit has to be something that the Raptors develop. With Casey developing this new identity, it's going to mean that the team plays complete games of defense, and not just in spurts where it suits them.