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3 In The Key: Celtics vs Raptors

Like a kid opening his present, Bryan Colangelo unveiled Rudy Gay to the masses, and Toronto ate it up. Despite what he may think about Gay's long term effect, Kinnon Yee believes that at the very least, Bryan Colangelo has bought himself time.

Igniting a passion for basketball in Toronto
Igniting a passion for basketball in Toronto

The Rudy Gay experience has been a whirlwind to say the least.

There's frankly not a heck of a lot to say with such a small sample size, and while Gay is definitely impacting Toronto's fortunes right now, the Raptors are going to need to take some time to integrate him.

Well, integrate Gay and find a proper scheme now that they've shipped out players.

And while I'm definitely holding off on judgements and believe that it'll be at least until next year that we can truly evaluate this trade, there's one thing Rudy Gay may have done already.

He may have bought Bryan Colangelo an extension.

Yes, while Colangelo was insistent to talk about how bloggers are simply panning his move based on stats that don't tell the whole story, fans have been eating up Toronto's acquisition.

The city of Toronto at least, has embraced Rudy Gay with open arms.

Unlike Damon Stoudemire, Vince Carter, or Chris Bosh, Rudy Gay comes into the city as a part of a trade rather than a developing rookie. In that sense, he's the first "star" player to join the Raptors with lots of fanfare in the middle of his career. It's enough so that fans are chanting when he has the ball and electrifying the atmosphere in the ACC.

With that one stroke, everyone seems to want to believe and get on the bandwagon.

People are excited about this team as it's one of the most athletic in recent memory.

And to me, I think that just might be enough for BC to get an extension.

In tonight though, the Raptors now find yet another strong test against their remade lineup. The Celtics come into town and are riding a four game winning streak. The C's may not have Rajon Rondo, but they have a core group of players who are doing their best under adversity. With a team that includes Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, adversity only seems to make the Celtics stronger which means the Raptors will need to play at their pace today and out run and out jump the Celtics.

1) Watch out. Boston Scores - Most people wouldn't think that Boston is a high scoring team. Before Rondo went down with his injury, you'd be correct. Since his injury though, the Celtics are averaging 5 more points per game while only letting their defense slip 2 points.

A lot of that can be attributed to Leandro Barbosa's extended playing time as he's gone up from averaging 7 minutes per game to 23 since Rondo's injury. Toss in a resurgent Chris Wilcox and now Boston is a team that can average over 100 points per game.

2) Continue to develop chemistry - The current Raptors make up is going to show a lot more isolation plays for now. We've also seen some more aggressive defense in terms of block shots and steals. Nevertheless, this is a team that is in a growing period.

Kyle Lowry seems to be trying to put himself back in the same gear he was in at the beginning of the year now that he's running the Raptors unopposed. However, it's guys like Terrence Ross that concern me the most. While Ross has dropped off in his effectiveness since the beginning half of January, he's also seen more plays where he has to create off the bounce instead of shoot from a stand still.

Utilizing Ross and other pieces like Alan Anderson effectively was something that Jose Calderon worked hard at. Now there will be an adjustment period until both can find their uses under the new structure and rotation.

3) Rebounds (and 3 pointers ?) - If there's two areas where the Celtics have struggled this year, it's in these two areas. They are near the bottom of the league and the Raptors need to capitalize on it by making sure they do not leak out too quickly. Rebounding 4% better since the trade, the Raptors will need to pull down every single long rebound to give themselves as many shot opportunities as possible.

Forcing the Celtics into 3 point shots is another strategy the Raptors can use, but they have to be careful. The Celtics are shooting 4% better since Rondo has left the lineup, once again thanks to the extended playing time for Barbosa.

One final factor. Andrea Bargnani is slated to play today. Seeing how he performs can be an x-factor in all of this, but what's more important to all the Raptors fans out there is that we want him to show the league that he's healthy. If the Raptors can find him around 10 minutes for this game, hopefully that'll be the beginning of the end between the big Italian and our franchise.

In the long run, what the Raptors manage to turn Bargnani into and moving on from his tenure in Toronto is the thing that I think most of us are looking forward to the most.

So here's hoping for a good show by Bargs.