Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics Preview and Pick

Toronto Raptors +8 (4-2) at Boston Celtics -8 (6-1) 7:30 PM ET, Monday November 10, 2008
by Jason Green of

Tonight the new look Raptors take on the Big 3 and the Boston Celtics, who have started right where they left off last year and are still THE team to beat in the East and maybe even the NBA.Basketball bookies have the Celtics as 8 point favorites with a total around 198. The Celtics are posted at -450 as home favorites and the Raptors are posted at +325 as away dogs.

The Celtics come into this game after beating the Detroit Pistons in Detroit 88-76 to spoil the Motor City debut of Allen Iverson. The high scorer for the Celtics in this game was Tony Allen, off the bench, going for 23 points on 11/16 shooting. Kevin Garnett had a tough shooting night only scoring 8 points on 4-15 shooting, but he did grab 12 boards. For the game the Celtics shot 33/74 for a FG% of 44.6. On defense the Celtics clamped down and held the Pistons to only 26-75 shooting for a FG% of only 34.7%.

The Raptors come into this game after beating the Charlotte Bobcats away 89-79. Chris Bosh was a monster in the game leading all scorers with 30 points on 12/19 and also grabbing 15 boards. Raptors C Andrea Bargnani had his best game of the year going for 18 points. For the game the Raptors shot lights out shooting 35/71 for a FG% of 49.3%. The Raptors D was also legit, as the Bobcats only shot 30/81 for a FG% of 37%.

Neither team really lights up the scoreboard, as the Raptors rank 21st in scoring (95.3 ppg) while the Celtics rank 25th (93.3 ppg). The Raptors are shooting the long ball well, as they have a 3-point FG% of 45% while the Celtics are not at only 28% beyond the arc.

The reason why the Celtics are 6-1 and atop the Atlantic Division is their D, as they rank 3rd in points allowed (86.7 ppg) while the Raptors are only average ranking 13th in the league (94.7 ppg). The Celtics rank 1st on opponent’s FG % at only 37.52%. The Raptors are getting killed on the boards, as they have the worst rebounding differential in the league at -10.2 rpg while the Celtics are at a respectable +1.8.

This season the Celtics are 3-3 against the spread and the Raptors are 2-3. In terms of Over/Under for the year the Celtics are 3-4 and the Raptors are 3-2.

On the injury front neither team has any significant injuries.

The Celtics have yet to lose a home game this year (3-0) and the Raptors have played well away from the Great White North being 3-1 away from home.

Everyone knows that the Big 3 of KG, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce lead the Celtics, but they have been getting contributions from their bench players, especially Tony Allen who is avenging 18 ppg in his last 2 games.

The Raptors feature the league’s 3rd leading scorer in Bosh (26.7 ppg) and 2nd leading assist man in Jose Calderon (9.3). The thing is the Raptors will need to play a team game to beat the Celtics. These 2 cannot do it all themselves. A key player in this game will be Jermaine O’Neal, who has played decent but is only averaging 10.5 points and 6.3 rpg. The Raptors need more that that from a guy pulling in over $21 million this season.

If Raptors C Andrea Bargnani has another good game like he did last night it will give Toronto another scoring option. In the last 3 games the backup C has stepped up averaging 13 ppg.

The Raptors will have trouble defending Pierce and Allen, as the perimeter D of the Raptors is not their strong suit. The Raptors are getting killed on the boards this year and if they give the Celtics a lot of second chances this game will not be close.

The Raptors will have to figure out how to score on the awesome defense of the Celtics and they will have to shoot the 3 well tonight to open up the lane for Bosh and O’Neal. If they are not draining the 3 it may be a long night for the Raptors in Beantown.

Jason’s Pick: Celtics probably control the game and win easily, but the Raps stay within the 8.5 to cover.