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Game Thread: Toronto Raptors @ Boston Celtics

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The All-Star break can’t come soon enough for the Raptors, as they make acquaintances with the Celtics. Let’s watch.

Toronto Raptors v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Forgive another piece of writing that walks down the trope of March 2020 vs. March 2021, but I mean — please think about it from the Toronto Raptors’ perspective.

It was 364 days ago that the team got a solid road win over the Warriors, a crowd in San Francisco bearing witness, halfway through a four-game undefeated road trip on the west coast. Life was good.

We all know what happened after that: a pandemic, a league shutdown, bubble struggles and rehoming in Tampa. The year since that win streak hasn’t been kind to the Raptors, but they continue to work through it on the basketball court — still showing flashes of the determined team that can create havoc in the Eastern Conference.

COVID-19 is hitting hard, though. Toronto will be more than thankful to get their entire team rest over the All-Star break, which follows tonight’s matchup in Boston. Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Patrick McCaw, Malachi Flynn, and most of the coaching staff will still be sidelined due to health and safety protocols, as the NBA continues to ensure the schedule rules above all else — even as Toronto barely qualifies as a basketball team at this point.

The only news of note tonight? Jalen Harris will return to the 905 for G League action, leaving the Raptors with 11 bodies.

Yes, there’s still Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell, and maybe there can be some serendipity for the latter. Powell was the hero a year ago, scoring 37 points against the Warriors to keep Toronto’s win streak going. On Wednesday, he dropped a cool 36 in a loss to Detroit. Maybe, just maybe, Norm can get the required scoring help to force an upset against Boston, who come in winners of three straight.

Or perhaps we should cool our expectations and just get to that break ourselves; a week to decompress and collect how rough a year it’s been for our favourite team off the basketball court. Then, hopefully, everyone will be back to push for success again next Thursday against Atlanta.

For more on tonight’s game, check out the preview by Matthew Rodrigopulle. Here are the game details.

Where to Watch

TSN, 7 PM ET

Lineups

Toronto — Kyle Lowry, Terence Davis, Norman Powell, Stanley Johnson, Aron Baynes

Boston — Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Daniel Theis, Tristan Thompson

Injuries

Toronto — Pascal Siakam (out - health and safety protocols), Fred VanVleet (out – health and safety protocols), OG Anunoby (out – health and safety protocols), Patrick McCaw (out – health and safety protocols), Malachi Flynn (out – health and safety protocols)

Boston — Marcus Smart (out - calf), Romeo Langford (out - wrist)