It seems certain now that the Raptors will finish second place in the Eastern Conference. I don’t love announcing this, believe me, but I also have a way of leavening the news. As it happens, tonight’s contest in Toronto features the visiting Boston Celtics, a team that can only dream about second place. This is a sentiment I can get behind.
Oh the Celtics have good players, don’t get me wrong. And in Kyrie Irving, they have one of the best players in the league, a guy who can and has given the Raptors fits this season. They’ve got a bunch of youngsters with potential, a stout All-Star centre, and a handful of useful role-players and veterans. (They’ve also got whatever Gordon Hayward is now — I can’t even hazard a guess.) They should be dangerous.
Nevertheless, the Celtics are 37-23 and in fifth place in the East. They’ve played through a weird season, one with strange ups-and-downs, and more melodrama than a typical daytime soap opera. Irving has had things to say about his young teammates; Marcus Morris has tossed out complaints; coach Brad Stevens, former boy genius, has grinned through it all looking for answers. It warms the cockles of my heart, if I’m being honest.
Save an injured Fred VanVleet, the Raptors are almost entirely whole and they too are still looking to find themselves. There has been no negative (on-court) drama to speak of, but there have been a lot of new players, a lot of (on-court) wrinkles that need smoothing. Is that going to be a problem against a good (but troubled) Celtics squad? It could be the question of the night.
Get up to speed with John Gaudes’ full Raps-Celts preview here. Check out the updated game details below. And then, let’s watch.
Where to Watch
Sportsnet One, 8pm EST
Toronto - Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka
Boston - Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris, Al Horford
Toronto - Fred VanVleet (thumb - OUT)
Boston - Aron Baynes (foot - OUT)