Boston: 108.2 points/100 possessions (11th)
Toronto: 113.3 points/100 possessions (2nd)
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.
*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.
* 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.