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Raptors host the top seeded Celtics at home - preview, start time and more

A classic rivalry in the NBA — but can the Raptors put on a show deserving of the match up?

Boston Celtics v Toronto Raptors Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

Despite a lengthy road trip to close out the month, the Toronto Raptors will make a quick pit stop at home to welcome the Boston Celtics to town. The Celtics are currently the number one seed in the East with a 34-12 record, and are on an eight game winning streak. The Raptors are 11th place in the East with a 20-26 record.

The Raptors injury report seems to be clear (except for the long-haulers), while the Celtics will be missing top-player Jayson Tatum due to wrist soreness. This comes as a break for Toronto as they will have one less superstar to worry about.

Regardless, Toronto had several opportunities to take advantage of playing teams missing their superstars this week. First, they faced a Milwaukee Bucks team missing Giannis and Middleton. They lost 130-122. Then, they headed to Minnesota to face a Wolves team missing Karl Anthony Towns. They lost a 10+ point lead and lost 128-126.

The Toronto-Boston rivalry is a classic, and these games tend to bring out the best AND worst from everyone involved. Yet, does this game have the potential to be a classic, with how vast the gap is between these two teams currently?

Still, this team tends to be incredibly inconsistent, and might shock us as they face a Celtics team with high playoff aspirations.

Catch the Toronto Raptors face the Boston Celtics Saturday evening at 5:00p.m. EST on TSN.

While the takes and the vibes surrounding the Raptors continue to decline, let’s focus on a few positive things the Raptors have been doing, that they could take into the Boston Game.

Scottie Barnes

Despite a slow start to the season, reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes has been playing exceptional basketball lately. He has scored 20 or more points in four of his last five games, and scored a season high 29 in Minnesota.

Since the Raptors have been heavily relying on him more in the paint during offensive possessions, he has flourished. In the month of January, despite the Raptors’ record, Barnes is averaging 19.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.2 assists.

He seems to be finding his footing a little more, and when you add in his natural court vision, length, and athleticism — it seems like the pieces are falling into place for Barnes. If the Raptors have any hopes of stealing a win from the Celtics, Scottie will need to be in full force, all over the court.

Fred VanVleet

Despite the loss, Fred VanVleet also had a great week. He scored 25 points, 10 assists in Minnesota. 39 points, seven assists and nine rebounds in Milwaukee. 33 points, eight assists and five rebounds in New York. He’s hitting a stride this week.

He’s also back to hitting good three point numbers. In Minnesota he hit 4-6, in Milwaukee it was 6-12 and in New York it was 5-13. It’s unfortunate that the Raptors haven’t been able to convert these performances into wins.

In order to show out against the Celtics, Fred’s defence AND offence will need to be top tier. Unfortunately, he’s also been struggling with lower back soreness over the past few months, BUT based on his last few performances seems to be feeling okay. He’ll likely play a lot of minutes, so hopefully he’ll be able to pull out another 30+ point game.

So what can the Raptors improve on?


For a team that has a long history of being a defensive powerhouse... they sure are not showing that right now. Sure, it’s hard when you don’t have a solid rim protector. You cannot expect a point-forward like Scottie Barnes to be your “big” option.

Sure, Scottie has been doing well on the offensive end in that role, but he’s not big enough to guard the 7-foot+ crowd that roll into town every night. It also seems like a disservice to Pascal Siakam, one of the best forwards in the league, to make him act like a centre, when he’s not. Let your best player play his best basketball.

Christian Koloko needs to get a bit stronger, and Precious Achiuwa still has not recovered full enough to be responsible for that role yet. These days, it’s become more and more clear that the Raptors have a gaping hole in the 5-spot.


Regardless, this should be an interesting match. The Celtics have been hotter than a fresh pot of New England Clam Chowda’ all season long and are expected to make another championship run this year. Yet, the Raptors show glimpses of promise despite their record, so don’t go Dunkin’ your hopes yet, Toronto fans.

You can watch the Toronto Raptors play the Boston Celtics Saturday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. EST on TSN.