UPDATE: CSN’s A. Sherrod Blakely just broke the news that the Celtics medical staff plans to sit Rajon Rondo out today and also tomorrow night in Atlanta. Nate Robinson will get the spot in Rondo’s place
CH’s Take: I really like this decision. Rondo is a trooper and plays through countless injuries, but with all the injuries piling up earlier this year for the young guard with the foot issues to go along with the now a hamstring problem, no need to risk it, especially now that Delonte West is back in the fold. Look for Avery Bradley to be on the active roster in place of Rondo.
Boston at Toronto
1:00 P.M. ET.
Air Canada Centre
Local TV/Radio: CSN/WEEI
Boston: 108.3 points/100 possessions (10th)
Raptors: 105.1 points/100 possessions (21th)
Boston: 101.2 points allowed/100 possessions (5th)
Raptors: 108.1 points allowed/100 possessions (19th)
Probable TOR starters: Andrea Barganni, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Jose Calderon, Reggie Evans
Raptors: PROBABLE: Leandro Barbosa (shoulder) OUT: Ed Davis (knee)
Celtics: QUESTIONABLE: Rajon Rondo (hamstring) OUT: Jermaine O’Neal, Kendrick Perkins
Thumbnail: The Celtics try to bounce back from their first home loss of the season by facing another undermanned squad in Toronto who just traded away their starting point guard Jarrett Jack along with the former Celtics underachiever Marcus Banks and David Andersen in exchange for Peja Stojakovic and Jerryd Bayless.
The good news for the Cs is since league offices are closed over the weekend, this trade can’t be finalized until Monday, meaning Toronto will be shorthanded down one backup big and having just one natural point guard on their roster in Jose Calderon.
On the flip side, the C’s may be shorthanded themselves with Rajon Rondo being a gametime decision with a sore hamstring. Put it all together and you have an early season game in Toronto that has a few more interesting storylines than one may have anticipated. To get ready, in place of our usual preview format, Brendan Jackson talked with Sam Holako (@RapsFan) from Raptors Republic in the TrueHoop Network and asked some questions about the C’s Atlantic Division foe:
Celtics Hub: The Raptors are such a bipolar team. One night they will come out and beat the Orlando Magic and the a few games later they’ll get blown out by the Washington Wizards. What accounts for their “up and down” play?
Raptors Republic: This team is full of young/athletic guys who are basically interchangeable (DeRozan and Weems are pretty much the same player). When they beat Orlando, EVERYONE pulled their weight, made the right decisions and hit their shots. When they lost to Washington, everyone played like crap; that’s the problem with a young team without an elite level talent to take the reigns.
CH: The Raptors just traded away one of their most consistent players in Jarrett Jack. Do they think Jerryd Bayless is ready to be “the man” or is Jose Calderon reassuming his starting point guard duties?
RR: The Raptors got a massive expiring contract that they could parlay into assets at the deadline to a team looking for a scorer for the stretch run or a team looking to shed some contracts before the potential lockout. They could even let his contract expire and see where the new CBA lands them. You have to realize that the Raptors are owned by a pension fund and a bank; read fiscal responsibility.
In terms of Jack, he looks for his own game first and forces the issue on more than one occasion. That said, he is the best player in this deal and will be a great backup for Paul. Calderon has been up and down with the organization all year (Colangelo tried to trade him to Charlotte in the summer for Boris Diaw and Tyson Chandler, but MJ backed out at the last minute). The fact of the matter is that Calderon has 2 more years (after this season) and about $20mil in salary owed to him; going to be hard to trade him without including one of our young guns-which wont happen.
I hate to say it, but the Raptors wont get much worse with Bayless as the backup. The guys is an athletic player without an identity (SG in a PG’s body), so I suspect he will fit right in nicely with the rest of this crew. I do expect Barbosa’s roll to expand though; another SG being forced to handle the point, this should be fun.
CH: The Raptors are very small up front with Andrea Bargnani being a perimeter player and Reggie Evans being a beast, albeit a short one. What is the Raptors strategy for dealing with teams with size and length like the Celtics?
RR: The Raptors aren’t that bad up front with Amir Johnson and Ed Davis (when he gets back from injury). We did also have Andersen until today. I don’t now if you can deal with Bostons size. I imagine the Raptors will hope Bargnani scores 30+, Evans pulls down 12+ rebounds and everyone else basically over achieves the whole game to have a shot at winning. Between Bargnani, Evans and Johnson, the Raptors have some athleticism to give the Celtics front line some issues, but I don’t expect very much. Tonights game will be played for a moral victory, nothing else.
CH: How safe is Jay Triano’s job? The Raptors have a tendency to make their coach look really good and really bad in the same week.
RR: I’d put it at 50/50 right now, but I personally think he closes out the year. The Raptors just finished Sam Mitchell $4mil to hang out with his family, and are probably not looking to do the same thing with Triano. The fact of the matter is that as long as Colangelo doesn’t give into to the mob mentality of some of the fans in Toronto, Jay is safe. Afterall, he did hand him a pretty bad team, which realistically couldn’t have been expected to do a whole lot.
CH: The Raptors gave a huge contract to Amir Johnson in the offseason. Can you please tell me why?
RR: Same reason Darko Milicic got a big contract, and Kwame Brown is still employed…the list goes on. The NBA has a fascination with big guys, and Amir falls into this category. That being said, he is insanely efficient offensively, has the third highest offensive rebounding efficiency among power forwards in the league, is an athletic freak and is only 23.
The contract actually doesn’t look so bad when you realize that he will be making about $5mil this season (less than the mid-level), which is pretty cheap for a mobile big guy. If only he could stay out of foul trouble, I would have no issue with the contract.
The one thing that bothers me is what Bill Simmons said in his recent column; that Colangelo had to choose between paying Beasley $11mil over the next two years, or giving Amir that contract, and he chose Amir.
* * *
There you have it Celtics’ fans. A little Q and A to whet your appetite before today’s game. Despite the potential injury to Rajon Rondo, I still think the Celtics win big.
Prediction: Celtics 96, Raptors 85
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Brian Robb co-founded CelticsHub in 2009 and is the currently editor-in-chief. He is a producer and reporter at 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston and also contributes to Boston.com and Bleacher Report among other outlets.