Coming into the season, this three-game set for the Toronto Raptors raised our collective eyebrows. With Boston, Cleveland, and Boston all in a row two weeks before the season ends, it seemed like something had to be decided here. The most shocking part is that the stakes are still relatively low for Toronto. All they really have to do is split the two Boston matchups, and they should be set in the number one seed, with homecourt throughout the East playoffs.
So that’s the plan tonight. Coming off a pretty flashy win over the Denver Nuggets, where the bench was able to turn up the defensive meter to a level last seen in the Houston win, there should be a fair bit of momentum for the Raptors. They also had an opportunity to rest and practice to prepare, with two days in their facility before this game.
Boston, meanwhile, is as scrappy as ever. Thanks to a truly ridiculous amount of injuries to various players, starting lineups and rotations have been thrown out of whack, but the Celtics are winning anyway. They’re three games back of the Raptors for the first seed, and still have a shot if they can sweep these final two games. Tonight, they get some supporting cast members back, but are still missing Kyrie Irving and (of course) Gordon Hayward.
Marcus Morris and Al Horford will both return tonight.— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) March 31, 2018
Jaylen Brown (toe) will play.
Shane Larkin (ill) is out.
If you’re into hardware, too, these games could go a long way in who wins recency bias for the Coach of the Year — a race between two men at this point, Dwane Casey and Brad Stevens.
There’s a lot to enjoy. Check out the preview from Joel Stephens, and meet us in the comments.
Where to Watch
Sportsnet One, 7:30 PM ET
Toronto - Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas
Boston - Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, Aron Baynes
Toronto - none
Boston - Kyrie Irving (knee), Shane Larkin (illness), Marcus Smart (thumb), Daniel Theis (knee), Gordon Hayward