The Toronto Raptors are at home to face the league’s best tonight, as the Boston Celtics are here to put the re-energized Raptors to the test.
The Celtics are 19-5 overall, and 8-3 on the road. Thankfully the Raptors are 9-2 at home, but regardless they’re in tough. It’s hard to believe that Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are still getting better, but, the numbers don’t lie:
Only 6 NBA players are averaging at least 27 PPG and 7 RPG.— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) December 5, 2022
And two of them are on the same team ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/YRo1YCSfSQ
Before the game, Nick Nurse confirmed that the Raptors do see this as a measuring stick, and that makes sense — at the quarter-mark of the season, with all starters healthy, the Raptors should be looking at these games as opportunities to gauge their progress this season.
Nick Nurse on facing the NBA-best Celtics tonight: “For sure it’s a measuring game. I think we totally need to see where we are with these guys. They’re obviously the best team in the league right now in record and metrics… I think we need to see where we are.”— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) December 5, 2022
Even individually, guys like Pascal Siakam and OG ANunoby can also look at is as a measuring game; if they can put up good numbers and put the pressure on this Celtics defense that they’ve been against most other teams this season (those two brutal losses last week excepted), that’s a great sign for their progress and their respective All-Star campaigns.
Lineup-wise, Gary Trent Jr. returns to the starting lineup; Christian Koloko heads back to the bench. Nurse also confirmed in the pre-game that Juancho Hernangomez has a sprained ankle and bone bruise — nothing serious, no ligament damage — and he should be back in a few days.
[Update: Shortly after publication, the Raptors announced that Christian Koloko would indeed start!]
Al Horrid was a late scratch with stiff back for the Celtics, and Malcolm Brogdon is steal dealing with his non-COVID illness; Marcus Smart will play.
OK — you’re up to date! Let’s watch!
Where to watch:
TSN, 7:30 pm ET
Toronto Raptors — Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Christian Koloko
Gary Trent Jr.
Boston Celtics — Derrick White, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Blake Griffin
Toronto Raptors — Precious Achiuwa (ankle – out), Otto Porter Jr. (foot – out), Juancho Hernangomez (ankle – out)
Boston Celtics — Robert Williams III (knee – out), Danilo Gallinari (knee – out), Al Horford (back – out), Malcolm Brogdon (illness – out)