A four-game winning streak is nothing to sneeze at, especially with a team lacking in star talent like the Raptors. A five-game winning streak would be better, of course, but road wins don’t come much tougher anywhere else in the NBA than they do in Boston. The Celtics are 6-1 at TD Banknorth Garden this season and you know they will have revenge on their minds tonight after Sunday’s one-point loss in Toronto.
The Celtics won their next two games after Sunday’s loss even though Rajon Rondo still hasn’t returned from his hamstring injury and is expected to miss tonight’s game, as well. Delonte West broke his wrist in Wednesday’s win over the Nets so the Celtics are thin at point guard — Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels will likely share minutes at the position until Rondo gets back.
Not that it likely means much for tonight, but in their last games against the Celtics, Peja Stojakovic scored 20 points and shot 4-for-8 from three-point range while Jerryd Bayless had 14 points in just 22 minutes. After looking pretty good on Wednesday as they got their feet wet in 21 combined minutes, let’s see if Jay Triano gives them more playing time tonight with some potentially advantageous matchups.
Toronto: The Raptors’ string of recent luck continues as they’ll have a full roster tonight.
Boston: I’ve already mentioned Rondo and West, and you probably know that Jermaine O’Neal and Kendrick Perkins will be out for a while longer. This team is truly scary when you ponder that they’re first in the Eastern Conference in spite of their injury problems.
1. How will Andrea Bargnani respond to the SUPER-INTENSE defence that he’ll probably face from Kevin Garnett tonight?
2. Is Shaq “back”? His 25-point, 11-rebound performance against the Nets on Wednesday was his best scoring output since March 2009.
3. Should Triano give Jerryd Bayless heavy minutes tonight so J-Bay can use his athleticism and aggressive driving to exploit Nate Robinson and/or Marquis Daniels?
4. If Reggie Evans keeps beasting on the boards like he did against the Sixers on Wednesday, how will he respond to the inevitable hard foul from Shaq?
5. If Raptors actually win this game, is it time to start expecting them to make the playoffs this season?
Start time: 7:30 PM ET
Liveblog: Holly MacKenzie on theScore.com and ScoreMobile
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Reggie Evans, Andrea Bargnani
Boston: Nate Robinson, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal
Since the Raptors are in Boston tonight, I might as well go the obvious route and choose a House of Pain song for pregame festivities. I will not, however, go with the obvious song choice. We’re going with the Butch Vig remix of “Shamrocks and Shenanigans”, which kicks ass whether you want to admit it or not.