Stumbling to a 1-4 start, the Raptors could use inspiration any way they can get it — maybe tonight’s the night as they get a playoff rematch against the Celtics.
The mood around the Raptors has been morose since the season got underway, not encouraged by yet another blown lead in their last outing, losing to the Pelicans 120-116.
There’s been different responses to the collective struggle up and down the roster, with coach Nick Nurse blasting everyone in sight for the team’s poor start. That war path continued pre-game today, as he called out Terence Davis and Matt Thomas by name, saying that their defensive miscues can’t be offset by their shooting on the other end. He also solidified that Stanley Johnson — love him or hate him — is the team’s eighth man off the bench until further notice.
Nurse rips into TD and Matt for "giving up boatloads of points in short amount of minutes, and they can't get that many back on the other end."— William Lou (@william_lou) January 4, 2021
Credits Yuta and Len for holding serve defensively. Says any offense from them is "bonus" but they rebound. pic.twitter.com/VENTmCfbEH
Toronto does get some help tonight. A spat of Celtics injuries has come to a head, as four rotation guards are out for Boston — Kemba Walker, Jeff Teague, Romeo Langford, and Marcus Smart. The latter was a late scratch with a thumb injury, and as of posting this, we haven’t got a confirmed starting lineup from Boston, who don’t really have any backcourt players left.
Could this be the window the Raptors need? We know that the half court offence issues were exacerbated by Boston’s defense to close last season. Perhaps playing against some bench players or big lineups can loosen up scoring from Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry; or maybe, just maybe, we get the Pascal Siakam explosion we’re all waiting for.
We’ll soon see. For more, check out Dylan Litman’s preview from this morning. Here are the game details.
Where to Watch
Sportsnet, 7:30 PM ET
Toronto — Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Aron Baynes
Boston — Tremont Waters, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Daniel Theis, Tristan Thompson
Celtics starters against the Raptors in Tampa tonight...— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) January 5, 2021
Tremont Waters at the point, joining Tatum, Brown, Thompson and Theis.
Lowry, VanVleet, Anunoby, Siakam and Aron Baynes for Toronto
Toronto — Patrick McCaw (knee - out)
Boston — Kemba Walker (knee - out), Jeff Teague (ankle - out), Marcus Smart (thumb - out), Romeo Langford (wrist - out), Javonte Green (health and safety protocols - out)