Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics Christmas Game Preview

Toronto Raptors Boston Celtics

The Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics have both dominated the Atlantic Division. They have won thirteen of the last fifteen Atlantic Division banners in the NBA.

According to Lori Ewing of the Canadian Press in a CBC article, the Toronto Raptors have won 34 straight home games against the Atlantic Division. This win streak of the Toronto Raptors started on November 10th of 2015.

The Toronto Raptors come off a disappointing loss against the Indiana Pacers, but also an inspiring win against the Boston Celtics.

The Boston Celtics head into the Christmas break with a five-game winning streak. Their play looks much better than last year where they lost in the second round to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics Christmas Day Special

This will be the Celtics’ 33rd appearance on Christmas. This time they will be playing on the road against the Toronto Raptors. This will be the Raptors second-ever game at Christmas and the first-ever Christmas game at home.

According to NBA.com Staff, the last time the Toronto Raptors played in an NBA Christmas game was 2001. The best performing player for the Toronto Raptors on that day, was surprisingly, Morris Peterson with 22 points in 33 minutes followed closely by Alvin Williams with 15 points. Unfortunately, Vince Carter struggled that day with only 15 points and ended up losing to the New York Knicks 102-94. The New York Knicks had an incredible first half with a +15-point differential that resulted in them winning the game. Allan Houston and Mark Jackson were the two key New York Knicks in their Christmas Day win at Madison Square Garden.

Allan Houston had 34 points while Mark Jackson was flirting with a triple-double with 13 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds.

These two teams have met each other early in the season. The Boston Celtics came from behind to win 112-106 to defeat the Toronto Raptors at TD Gardens.

Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics are showing everyone the potential they had two years ago. Jayson Tatum scored 39 points and 12 rebounds against the Charlotte Hornets as they won 119-93 in Boston.

The three-headed monster led by Kemba Walker, who is averaging 22.6 points per game and 5.4 assists per game. This is followed closely by Jayson Tatum with 21.6 points per game and 7.1 rebounds per game, and Jaylen Brown with 19.8 points per game and 7.0 rebounds per game.

Both Tatum and Brown have significantly improved their production from last year.

The Boston Celtics also have other players that can hurt opposing NBA teams like Enes Kanter. Kanter averages 7.3 rebounds per game. Most notably, he had 18 rebounds recently against the Detroit Pistons.

The Toronto Raptors are just a half-game behind the Boston Celtics for second place in the NBA Eastern Conference. This will be the defending champs’ third game in four nights as they come off a tough loss against the Indiana Pacers on Monday.

Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors are an injury-ridden, but the highly confident side, that has to depend on their depth a lot more than the Boston Celtics.

Many guys can step us for the Toronto Raptors. Chris Boucher had a career-high 21 points and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 18 points and nine rebounds against the Dallas Mavericks. In that game, Kyle Lowry had 20 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter. This was the biggest comeback in Raptor’s history. He also had 30 points, 9 assists, and six rebounds against the Indiana Pacers.

The bench also played well against the Dallas Mavericks. This is what Kyle Lowry said about Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris Boucher, Terence Davis, and Malcolm Miller:

“I give them all the credit today. They won that game for us,” Lowry said. “We stayed with it. You don’t have to say much to that group because those guys are a bunch of guys who are fighting, continuing to prove and get better.”

However, they will feel hard done by the Indiana Pacers game, where they lost in overtime. They are still a solid side and despite several injuries are a team to be reckoned with.

OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet had double-doubles, while Serge Ibaka had 23 points and nine rebounds in the loss against the Indiana Pacers.

Toronto Raptors – Stopping the Three-Headed Monster

The Toronto Raptors will have to stop the three-headed monster in Boston. The Raptors have created a reputation for themselves for limiting the production of NBA star players.

The problem is they will be missing Marc Gasol and stopping a guy like Tatum will open the floor more for Walker and Brown.

The big weakness the Boston Celtics does have is depth. According to NBA.com, the Boston Celtics are 27th in bench scoring and does not have a consistent fourth scorer to count on. So, stopping the three-headed monster might be a difference between winning and losing.

The Raptors also should not turn over the ball. They did turn the ball over more than usual against the Indiana Pacers. However, according to NBA.com, they are in the top half of the league in turnover ratio and should not be a problem for the Raptors against the Celtics. The deciding factor will most likely be about rebounds.

Toronto Raptors – Rebounding

The Toronto Raptors sometimes have issues with rebounding, although they have gotten better as of late as reflected in being ranked ninth in rebounding.

Serge Ibaka and former G-League players like Chris Boucher and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will be depended heavily on this department.

According to NBA.com, both teams are good at rebounding as the Toronto Raptors are seventh and the Boston Celtics ranked ninth for rebounding.

However, there are two guys the Toronto Raptors should take notice of in the rebounding department.

Boston Celtics – Enes Kanter

Enes Kanter is averaging more than 10 rebounds in the last three games so getting on the glass will be important. He will be a focal point for guys like Ibaka, fighting for rebounds.

There was some doubt that Enes Kanter could play in Canada on Christmas because of Turkish threats to the former Turkish international.

However, notable figures like U.S. Senator Ed Markey and current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau helped Enes Kanter travel to Toronto. This quote is sourced from The Associated Press of CBC:

“I want to thank Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, U.S. and Canadian law enforcement, U.S. Senator Ed Markey, the Celtics, the NBA and my managers for working diligently to make my Christmas game against the Raptors possible and ensuring my safety there,” Kanter writes in the Globe. “And, on Christmas night, I will play in my first game as a Celtic outside the U.S. when I take the court against the Raptors.”

Another guy they also need to worry about is Gordon Hayward who is likely to return from injury against the Toronto Raptors.

Boston Celtics – Gordon Hayward

Also, according to NBA writer for ESPN Tim Bontemps, Gordon Hayward could return into the lineup for the Boston Celtics. He may not be the NBA All-Star before his injury woes in Boston, but he still can get a lot of rebounds.

As the Toronto Raptors learned in their only meeting so far against the Boston Celtics in October, Hayward scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds against the Toronto Raptors. He was one of the key guys for the Boston Celtics come from behind win against them in October.

Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics Predictions

The Toronto Raptors have dominated the Atlantic Division, but have had trouble winning games against teams in the top echelon of the Eastern Conference including the Boston Celtics.

However, the Raptors have proven they can compete with a tough championship or playoff-contending teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks.

The Boston Celtics have three incredibly gifted players but do not have much depth to their scoring.

Furthermore, the Celtics do not know what to expect from Toronto. They know that Lowry and probably Fred VanVleet will deliver, but do not know who else to guard.

Some nights it will be Serge Ibaka and OG Anunoby and on other nights it will be Chris Boucher and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. The Toronto Raptors depth will make it hard for the Boston Celtics to adjust to.

This game could go either way as the Celtics have a lot fewer injury issues than the Raptors. However, the Toronto Raptors do not know how to quit, and they are playing at home. Expect them to take the win on Wednesday.

The Raptors will win this game by four points because of their good defense and rebounding. Expect someone else to deliver for the Raptors besides VanVleet and Lowry to lead them to victory.

This game will take place at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto this Wednesday at 12:00 p.m.

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