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PREVIEW: Toronto Raptors vs Boston Celtics — Injuries, predictions and more

After a blowout win, Toronto looks to keep their foot on the gas against the NBA-best Celtics.

Toronto Raptors v Boston Celtics
Pascal Siakam rises up for the midrange jumper against Jrue Holiday.
Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Every Toronto Raptors fan on the planet knew what was at stake during the Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons game last night.

Detroit needed to pull off the improbable (winning) in order to spare the Raptors of being in the position to fall into the inevitable on Saturday (possibly losing in the most embarrassing way ever). BUT NOOOOOO.

Despite the Pistons carrying a 21-point lead into the 2nd half, they couldn’t end their history-tying losing streak against the Celtics and will now carry it into Saturday’s game against Toronto.

But that’s Saturday’s game. Why it’s apropos to mention the above for tonight’s game is because the Raptors get the Celtics on a SEGABABA (Second game of a back to back). They may be facing the best team in the NBA, but some advantages are in store for the Raptors.

Surely that should help!

Let’s dig in.

How to Watch:

TSN at 7:30 p.m. ET

Lineups:

Toronto: Scottie Barnes, Gary Trent Jr., O.G. Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl

Boston: Jrue Holiday, Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Kristaps Porzingis

Injuries:

Toronto: Christian Koloko (respiratory — out), Garrett Temple (ankle — doubtful)

Boston: Jayson Tatum (questionable — ankle), more updates to come.

*****

Fresh Legs

All things considered, the Raptors should have a pretty sizeable advantage in tonight’s game.

Not only are they coming off of a rest day, but they also walloped the Wizards so badly that the regular big-minute players didn’t have to expend as much minute-energy as they typically do. On top of that, the Celtics, as previously mentioned, are coming off of a game last night that went to overtime.

Jayson Tatum is currently listed as questionable, though a more accurate injury report can’t be expected until later, since Boston played last night. Tatum did mention some ankle swelling last night, and surely Boston will be eager to keep their star player injury free.

Having said that, the Celtics are, by record, the best team in the league while the Raptors are *analyzing statistics and league records* ... not.

Perhaps that equation works out to be a net neutral and fans will be in for a competitive game! Or, the Celtics will continue their dominance over the Raptors, having already beaten them twice this year. Time will tell!

Let it Rain

Here’s some not great news for tonight’s game. Toronto allows the 7th worst opponent three point percentage in the league at 37.1%. The Celtics takes the most 3s per game in the entire league at 43.1.

To cap it off, Boston is at home, where they have the fourth best 3pt% at 40.1%. The math might not be mathing for Toronto, tonight.

On the positive side, Scottie Barnes has been making it rain himself. His 3PM percentage has jumped about 10% from last season to this season. In the Raptors’ last game against Washington, he shot 4-8 (50%) from three.

Barnes has already nearly reached his total 3PM number from last year... 30 games into an 82 game NBA season. He is currently shooting 38.9% from three point range... after shooting 28.1% from three last season.

If Scottie Barnes can get up to his shooting ways tonight, maybe he can soften the blow from a high-shooting Celtics team tonight.

Trade Rumblings

It’s that time of the year! If traded by December 30th, Pascal Siakam’s bird rights can be transferred over to his prospective new team, if he were indeed, ever traded.

O.G. Anunoby — who, before the change in the starting lineup, was struggling mightily with both his offense and his defense — has not had his best season.

Though shocking to see Anunoby so lowly ranked across all players, what a treat to see Scottie Barnes ranked that highly!

And of course, none of it will matter because Masai Ujiri doesn’t love to trade his guys, especially at the trade deadline. It’s hard to imagine a world where Masai takes a low deal for either Anunoby or Siakam just because of these rankings/performances.

Tonight and tomorrow’s back to back games will close out the Raptors’ tumultuous 2023 — will we be heading into the new year with a trade bombshell, or will the evaluations and questions ride into 2024?

Hard to tell... but all eyes will be on tomorrow night’s game against Detroit in the mean time.