Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors are in Boston for an Atlantic division showdown with the Celtics Thursday night. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)
- Surging Toronto Raptors in Boston to take on the Celtics
- Raptors playing back-to-back after hammering Wizards Wednesday
- Check the odds, analysis and betting preview below
Back from a tough road trip, the Boston Celtics get their chance at a weary visiting opponent when they welcome the Toronto Raptors to TD Garden Thursday night.
Toronto is playing the second night of a back-to-back and their third game in four nights, but their recent play has pushed them back into the East playoff picture. The Celtics, meanwhile, are trying to avoid a third straight defeat.
Raptors vs Celtics Odds
|Toronto Raptors||+3.5 (-110)||+132||N/A|
|Boston Celtics||– 3.5 (-110)||-156||N/A|
Odds from FanDuel taken February 10. Tip-off is Thursday at 7:30pm ET
At 12-11 the Celtics currently sit fourth in the East and third in the Atlantic Division. The Raptors are last in the division, but at 12-13, are now into the eight seed in the conference.
It’s taken some time to adjust to who the Toronto Raptors are now, but they seem to have embraced this swifter, smaller and (finally) the game-in, game-out competitiveness to compete for wins in the NBA. Since starting 2-8, the Raptors are now 10-5 in their last 15 to find their way back to the land of the living.
Raptors Hammer play. Lopez might be the only Wizard who sort of does his job. Westbrook has NO idea that his man has moved to the corner for a wide-open 3. pic.twitter.com/Txjsp7lquC
— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) February 11, 2021
They’re 12th in the NBA in scoring, paced by Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam at just over 20 points per game each. In all, six Raptors are scoring in double digits, and almost all of them got into act the with a 137-115 demolition of the Wizards Wednesday. Siakam had 26, Norman Powell had 28, Kyle Lowry had 21, and seven Toronto players drilled a combined 19 triples to help their fifth win in six games.
the norman powell show continues (via @Raptors) pic.twitter.com/HEIACtgnL0
— Yahoo Sports Canada (@YahooCASports) February 11, 2021
Norm, Lowry, Chris Boucher, Terrence Davis and everyone else Nick Nurse puts on the floor is expected to make meaningful contributions behind FVV and Siakam — even more as they’ve been without budding star OG Anunoby, who won’t be available against Boston with a calf injury.
Where they’ve struggled is defensively, surrendering 111.6 points a game, just 16th in the NBA. Part of that is their 29th-ranked defensive rebounding mark, leading to a high number of opponent second-chance points (7th-worst). When they do get stops though, watch out: the Raps lead the NBA in points off turnovers — the only team posting better than 20 points a night.
Home cooking should hopefully do the Celtics good — but it’s probably better they got Jaylen Brown back last time out against the Jazz. He didn’t skip a beat, pouring in a game-high 33, though it wasn’t enough to stop the Utah’s 16th win in 17 games.
Those are some #NBAAllStar moves from Jaylen Brown. pic.twitter.com/Mo6gflaXQL
— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) February 10, 2021
Pairing Brown with Jayson Tatum gives Boston one of the best wing duos in the league, on both ends of the floor. They’ve helped Boston improve to a top-10 scoring defense, limiting teams to 109.8 points a game, which ranks sixth in the NBA. They need all the defense they can get, because aside from Brown and Tatum, the C’s offense is a work in progress.
Tatum has hit some CLUTCH buckets this season 🥶 @Celtics vs. Jazz // 10:00pm ET on TNT pic.twitter.com/v9GwuuXfxS
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 9, 2021
Boston is 19th in scoring, and it’s due to the fact their facilitators have been hurt. First, it was Kemba Walker missing the start of the year because of a worrisome knee, but then Marcus Smart has been out with a calf injury that will sideline him till later in the month.
They’ve cobbled together workable rotations around Jeff Teague, Payton Pritchard and even RJ Hampton is seeing time, but the net result is Boston has trouble generating easy looks, ranking a lowly 28th in assists.
What’s The Best Bet?
Fatigue is the biggest factor here, and the Raptors are currently 0-3 this year on the second night of back-to-backs. The Celtics are also 5-1 ATS in their last six home games. Perhaps the biggest factor is that Boston has star power in Tatum and Brown to pull out games even when they’re not playing well, and that’s really the only difference between these evenly matched teams.
In their only meeting of the year, Tatum dropped a 40-bomb to put Toronto away. True, that was during Toronto’s early season swoon, but look for more of the same Thursday.
The pick: Celtics -3.5 (-110)
Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric’s work has appeared in local and national publications alike.