It’s the LAST back to back game of the season (whew)! Yet, the Toronto Raptors will certainly not be able to breeze to the end of the NBA regular season. They have three games left, two against the Boston Celtics and one against the Milwaukee Bucks — the two top teams in the Eastern Conference.
That worked out... terribly.
Onwards and (maybe) upwards — in terms of their standing. The Raptors are fighting for positioning in the NBA Play-In Game. They currently sit in 9th place in the East, which would mean they’d have to win TWO play-in games to get to a playoff series. With their schedule to end the season, it’s not looking like they will be able to move up to that 8th position — but you NEVER KNOW!
This team has a habit of competing with top teams despite their less than ideal season as a whole. They took the Milwaukee Bucks to overtime not too long ago. So, don’t count them out entirely.
Let’s compare these two teams:
Boston is 54-25 on the season. Toronto is 40-39.
Boston is 2nd in the East, behind Milwaukee. Toronto is 9th.
Boston averages 118.4 points per game while Toronto averages 113.1 per game.
Jayson Tatum leads the Celtics in points per game with an average of 30.3. Siakam leads Toronto with 24.3 points per game.
Boston’s longest winning streak of the season was nine games, a streak they went on two separate times this season. Toronto’s longest streak was four games in February.
In terms of injuries, with both teams being on night two of back to backs, injury information is subject to change as we approach game time. If we look at the injury reports from last night, Toronto was missing Gary Trent Jr. due to an elbow/back issue. Boston played Philadelphia without Payton Pritchard, Jaylen Brown and Robert Williams III. Expect those to be mostly the same.
The Celtics also LOST their close game against the Philadelphia 76ers last night. Joel Embiid scored 52 points to edge the Sixers over the Celtics.
Here are some factors that could help the Raptors steal a win from the Celtics:
Fred VanVleet scored a franchise record of 20 points and 20 assists in Sunday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets. He’ll need to bring that playmaking energy out again against the Celtics. If Fred can have another high offensive game, help his teammates get good looks, and also play a good defensive game — he’ll put the Raptors in a good spot.
He’ll be up against Celtics’ guard Marcus Smart — the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year. Fred VanVleet can handle Marcus Smart, though.
Boucher had an excellent game against the Hornets on Tuesday night. His ability to be strong in the post, get rebounds, be quicker than his defender, and ALSO be a threat on the perimeter makes him a threat.
He scored 21 points on Tuesday, including three from beyond the arc. He scored +20 in the game +/- and went 6-8 from the field. He is part of the bench crew that has been making an impact this week — an essential part of the depth Toronto sometimes lacks.
Another bench member hitting their stride — Will Barton. He was brought on by the Raptors for his ability to shoot the three, and he showed that tonight. He may have missed his first shot, but then he went on a tear. He ended up with 20 points — six of his seven made field goals coming from beyond the three-point line.
In a season where Toronto has seriously lacked shooting ability at times, Will Barton is hitting his stride at the right time. Especially against a team like Boston who has some strong shooters. Let’s see if he can repeat that performance tonight.
The Toronto Raptors will play the Boston Celtics Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. on TSN.