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kgboshOffensive Efficiency:

Boston: 108.2 points/100 possessions (11th)

Toronto: 113.3 points/100 possessions (2nd)

Defensive Efficiency:

Boston: 99 points allowed/100 possessions (2nd)

Toronto: 116.4 points allowed/100 possessions (3oth)

Probable Toronto starters:

Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, Hedo Turkoglu, DeMar DeRozan

WHAT THE RAPTORS DO WELL:

Score, score, score. Before the Bobcats blew them out Wednesday night, the Raptors led the league in offensive efficiency and had the highest offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) compared to league average of any team since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976, according to Basketball Prospectus. I don’t care that they had only played 15 games—that’s some serious offense.

And it’s easy to see why. Every player in their starting line-up (minus DeRozan) is a capable to deadly outside shooter; the team is hitting 39.7 percent from deep, 4th-best in the league. You try defending a Turkoglu-Bosh screen/roll when the guy whose responsibility it is to sag down on the roll man is guarding Bargnani on the perimeter or Calderon (whom the Raps are using off the ball quite a bit) on the wing. Good freaking luck. The C’s screen/roll defense will face its toughest test of the year so far.

* They also take care of the ball (only the Hawks commit turnovers less often), and they’re getting to the line a ton—only Denver and Portland have taken most free throws per shot attempt. Of course, that’s almost entirely due to Chris Bosh’s insane 11.6 free throw attempts per game. Keeping him off the line will be crucial.
 
WHAT THE RAPTORS DO POORLY
 
*That other thing…what’s it called? Oh yeah: Defense. The Raptors can’t stop anyone. Hell, the Bobcats, a borderline unwatchable offensive club, just rung up 116 points on the hapless Raps D. Calderon can’t defend quick point guards on the screen/roll to save his life, and Bargnani remains a often-confused defensive liability even as his offensive game continues to blossom. The team was hoping Antoine Wright would be their perimeter stopper. It hasn’t worked out.

 

*Good news for Sheed: The Raps have been especially bad defending the three. Toronto opponents are shooting a robust 38 percent from deep even though those opponents have taken a whopping 326 threes—the second-highest mark in the league. In other words: Toronto opponents are taking a lot and hitting a lot.

* For a team with a soft reputation, the Raps are fouling the hell out of opponents. Only two teams allow their enemies to get to the line more often (per shot attempt), which suggests that the Raptors are out of position a lot on defense. The Celtics hadn’t been getting to line much before their 39 attempts against Philly on Wednesday. Will that aggressiveness carry over into this game?
 
 
PLAYER WHO MAKES ME WORRY
 
 
*Chris Bosh. For all the attention on Toronto’s Euro shooters, Bosh is the true centerpiece of the offense. Without his free throws, the Raptors have a hard time scoring during those inevitable shooting slumps. Without the threat he presents rolling to the hoop, Bargnani, Calderon and Turk get fewer clean looks from distance. Bosh is also an accomplished jump-shooter in his own right and a major pick-and-pop threat.
The C’s have held CB4 well below his average scoring and field-goal percentage marks since KG arrived in Boston. That’s a big reason why they are 8-0 against the Raps over the last two seasons.
 
*Jose Calderon. Calderon is an interesting dude. He’s a knock-down shooter, a smart passer and a careful ball-handler who rarely turns it over. But you seldom see Calderon slash into the lane on screen/rolls, even if defenders go over the screen and get behind him. I’d expect Rondo to defend him this way and let the rest of the C’s defense provide the necessary help. Go under the screen, and Calderon can kill you.
 
PLAYER WHO DOES NOT MAKE ME WORRY
 

* The shooting guard. When DeRozan or Wright are in the game at the two spot, they are the guys you can leave (somewhat) open as you play the “pick your poison” game with the rest of the shooters. When Marco Belinelli comes in the game, things get tougher. He’s feisty, and he can shoot and create for his teammates off the dribble. A fun guy to watch.

WHAT WE WANT TO SEE FROM THE C’s TONIGHT

The Sixers shot 13-of-20 from three on Wednesday. The Knicks took advantage of some small but noticeable defensive slippage last weekend. Neither team was good enough to actually beat the Celtics despite some defense below Boston’s usual sterling standard.

The Raptors are. Let’s bring the D—the maniacal rotations, the close-outs so aggressive you worry about fouling jump-shooters, the shot-blocking intimidation. I want to see the Celtics send a reminder to the league: We’re still the best defensive team in the NBA. Fear us.

Bonus subplot: Raptors fans hate the Celtics—see my Q-and-A on Raptors Republic for proof. Let’s take the win streak up to nine tonight.

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Zach Lowe

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  • DeVelaine

    I made the horrible mistake of starting to read the comments over there, Zach, and I think I got exposed to worse abuse than I’ve ever seen in the entire Celtics-Lakers rivalry. You’re right, they really do hate us.

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