The miles on the Celtics’ aging, creaky bodies are catching up with them a third of the way into this season. After a ridiculous 23-4 start to the season, they’ve lost three of their last four games and Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo will probably both be in civvies for today’s one-off at the Air Canada Centre. Regardless of how meaningless a Raptors win would be today for the fortunes of these teams by the end of the season, the Celtics are definitely vulnerable for an upset.
It’s difficult to compare these teams right now because they’re likely to be missing at least two players each from their starting lineups. In particular, the dropoff from Rondo to Nate Robinson is a massive one for the Celtics and it’s no coincidence that they haven’t broken the 100-point mark in any of their last six games. And if Garnett is also a DNP today, they’ll be easier to score on as well. If the Pistons were able to beat the Celtics 104-92 on Wednesday with Garnett and Rondo on the sidelines, then the Raptors have a shot today.
Toronto: Sonny Weems and Andrea Bargnani are both probably still out, while Jerryd Bayless is doubtful with a sore ankle.
Boston: No Rondo and no Garnett makes the Celtics a beatable team.
1. Can DeMar DeRozan carry over his confidence from his career-best 37-point performance against the Rockets on Friday?
2. Remember when Avery Bradley was being discussed as an option for the Raptors’ 2010 first round pick? He’s played 65 minutes this season and made 4 of 17 field goal attempts. (Note: Due to “The Patrick Patterson Corollary”, I expect Bradley will get his first career double-double today.)
3. Where does Linas Kleiza rank in Player Efficiency Rating (PER) among players who have taken at least 322 field goal attempts so far? OK, this is obviously a completely arbitrary stat and I’m well aware that nobody is asking this question, but Kleiza ranks 85th out of 87 NBA players this season under this criteria.
4. Has there ever been an NBA starting lineup with a higher “clown percentage” than the Celtics’ likely starting unit which will include Shaq, Big Baby and Nate-Rob?
5. Have any of you finished any good books you got for Christmas? I just finished “Griftopia” by Matt Taibbi, which is about what really caused the American financial disaster in 2008. I recommend it highly both for entertainment value and for gaining an understanding of what and who contributed to the meltdown.
Start time: 6:00 PM ET
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Linas Kleiza, Joey Dorsey, Amir Johnson
Boston: Nate Robinson, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Glen Davis, Shaquille O’Neal
Instead of a pregame song for you today, I’ve got renowned Celtics fan Mark Wahlberg in this submission for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his work in “The Fighter”. Who could have given a better performance in this role? Not you.