BOSTON CELTICS (23-14)
at TORONTO RAPTORS (24-13)
Tip-off: Tuesday, 7:35 p.m. ET
Line: Toronto -4.5, Total: 218.0
The Celtics will be looking for their fifth straight win when they face a struggling Raptors team on Tuesday.
Boston hosted New Orleans on Saturday and ended up winning that game 117-108 as a six-point home favorite. The Celtics have now won four straight games and six of their past seven. They have not even played well over the past two contests, shooting less than 45% in each of those games and also allowing their opponents to shoot better than 45%. Still, Boston has been able to scrap out victories and will now be hoping to get hot in Toronto on Tuesday. The Celtics are getting the Raptors at the right time, as Toronto has lost two straight and five of its past seven. The team has just been miserable offensively recently, shooting under 40% from the floor in two of its past four. The Raptors are going to need to start playing better offensively moving forward. These teams met already this season, as Toronto beat Boston 101-94 as a 2.5-point road underdog on Dec. 9. The Raptors improved to 6-3 both SU and ATS against the Celtics over the past three seasons, and that includes a 3-1 record both SU and ATS at home. One trend that favors Boston in this one is the fact that the team is 28-9 ATS versus explosive teams that score 103 or more points per game under head coach Brad Stevens. Toronto, meanwhile, is 33-18 ATS after two straight games where both teams scored 100 points or more under Dwane Casey.
The Celtics are scorching hot right now, and a lot of that has to do with PG Isaiah Thomas (28.0 PPG, 6.1 APG, 2.6 RPG) playing at a near MVP level. Over the past five games, Thomas is averaging 34.8 PPG on 54.7% shooting from the field and 58.5% shooting from three. Thomas’ confidence is on a whole other level right now, but he needs to be just as good on Tuesday. If he does not win his matchup with Kyle Lowry then it’ll be tough for Boston to come away with this road win. The status of Avery Bradley (18.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.3 SPG) is also concerning in this backcourt. Bradley is one of the best two-way players in the league, but he missed the Celtics’ game against the Pelicans on Saturday. It’d be a big loss for Boston if Bradley were to miss this one. C Al Horford (15.4 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 5.0 APG, 2.0 BPG) is another guy that must be mentioned for this Celtics team. Horford struggled against New Orleans last game, going just 3-for-18 from the floor. He should be able to bounce back on Tuesday, as his speed will give Jonas Valanciunas serious problems. Look for Horford to do his best to blow by Valanciunas whenever he gets a chance.
Toronto has struggled over the past few weeks, and that is not necessarily normal for this team. The Raptors have been as consistent a team as there is in the Eastern Conference over the years, and it’s very likely that they’ll bounce back with a nice winning streak soon. The team will, however, need PG Kyle Lowry (22.4 PPG, 7.1 APG, 5.0 RPG, 1.6 SPG) to step it up in order to do so. Lowry was miserable against Houston last game, going just 2-for-7 with 12 points. Toronto needs him to be a lot more aggressive on Tuesday, as he’ll need to try to match the efforts of Isaiah Thomas. SG DeMar DeRozan (27.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.3 SPG) should be ready to go, though. DeRozan has scored 36 points in each of the past two games, and he’ll be excited to face a Celtics team that will either be without Avery Bradley or have Bradley playing at below 100% health. Look for DeRozan to attack the basket a ton, as he likely needs to score 30 or more in order to help his Raptors win this one. The x-factor in this game might, however, be SF DeMarre Carroll (9.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.2 SPG). Carroll was on fire in the loss to Houston last game, going 7-for-12 from the floor and 6-for-10 from three. If he can keep shooting the ball well then the Raptors are going to be dangerous.