Saturday, November 17, 2012

Three keys to beating the C's - Raptors-Celtics Preview

posted by Mike Masaya

Between coming off a nail biter against the Pacers and news of Lowry, Fields and Anderson being out with injury for the next little while, the Raptors have a lot to think about before facing the Celtics on Saturday. Not including Boston, the Raptors have four very winnable games coming up against Orlando, 76ers, Bobcats and Pistons.

As cliche as it sounds, it’s true, one game at a time. In this case, the next game is against the Boston Celtics.

Here are my thoughts on the 3 points the Raptors will need to address in order to beat the Celtics in what is likely to be another close game.

1. Control the Guards: With Lowry out for the next little while the key will be making sure Rajon Rondo doesn’t have his way with the Raptors defense. However, with Rondo’s recent ankle injury which kept him out of last night’s loss against the Nets, the Celtics will rely on former Raptor Leandro Barbosa, Courtney Lee and Jason Terry to pick up the slack. DeRozan, Calderon and Lucas will need to perform up to standard along with rookie Terrence Ross, who I hope will be motivated by the pressure of facing the Celtics. It will likely not come down to the performance of Ross, but having him play well can throw a monkey wrench in the Celtics scouting report and grant coach Casey some relief.

2. Control the Glass:  With a 2-6 record you wouldn't expect the Raptors to be among the top 10 in defensive statistics among Eastern Conference teams, but they are. Even though the Celtics are 5-4 they are last in the Eastern Conference when looking at the same numbers. A long way from the team defense they displayed only a few years back.

They key, rebounds. Garnett and Bass can only do so much. Together they average about 13 rebounds per game and no other Celtics player tallies more than five. Starters DeMar and Jonas combine for about ten boards per game and Amir Johnson has been a spark off the bench as of late amassing seven rebounds all by his lonesome. If Ed Davis can put his best foot forward as well, the Raptors should have no problem outrebounding the Celtics, limiting their possessions and increasing their own.

3. Finish strong: This point is statistic free and really comes down digging deep, remaining calm and making smart decisions down the stretch. The image of Jose Calderon tossing up his arms in relief after the Raptors win against the Pacers shows just how frustrating the start to this season has been. Outside a 20 point loss at the hands of the Thunder, the Raptors have been in every game and were it not for a few ill advised offensive decisions, some of those losses could have easily become wins.

Scoring in the paint as opposed to finishing the fourth quarter with a slew of jump shots is this Hip Hoop Junkies’ prescription. To be fair, doing that consistently against Garnett and Bass won’t be easy. With so many bigs on the Raptors roster though, getting Garnett and Bass into foul trouble should be the focus, opening up avenues for Toronto to stop the clock and score points should the game come down to the wire. An avenues that could lead to another victory.

(Photo via Toronto Sun)

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