The Boston Celtics are heading north as they get prepared to face the Toronto Raptors in the far away lands of Canada.
As Atlantic Division rivals in the Eastern Conference, you know this game will be a scrappy, hard-fought battle between proud franchises with two of the best fanbases in basketball.
Let’s take a look at where you can tune in to this contest, what time it tips off, an updated injury report, some storylines and players to follow, a prediction on the final score and more.
Start Time: Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. ET
Location: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
TV Info: CSNN (Celtics), RSN (Raptors)
Live Stream: NBA League Pass (Paid subscription required)
Injury Report (via ESPN)
F Jared Sullinger, Out, Back
G Rajon Rondo, Out, Knee
F/C Andrea Bargnani, Probable, Elbow
G Landry Fields, Day-to-Day, Back
Key Storyline: New Looks
Both the C’s and Raps are going to be trotting out dramatically different lineups compared to when they first met back in November.
For Boston, the team has had to overcome season-ending injuries to superstar point guard Rajon Rondo and standout rookie forward Jared Sullinger. Toronto completely altered the roster by trading Ed Davis and Jose Calderon away to acquire Rudy Gay as part of a six-player blockbuster.
However, even with the Celtics depleted by injury and the Raptors reloaded with star power, this game isn’t going to be one-sided.
Boston has won four games in a row since Rondo tore his ACL, snapping a six-game losing streak in the process and beating quality teams like the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers.
Toronto is still struggling to get accustomed to Gay, going 1-1 since the megatrade and losing to the Heat by 15 on Sunday night.
It’ll be interesting to see if the C’s can push their winning streak to five, or if the Raps will play with some passion to avenge the 107-89 loss they suffered in the first of four scheduled meetings in 2012-13.
Key Matchup: Rudy Gay vs. Paul Pierce
These two star swingmen are undoubtedly going to swing the results of this contest, as they will likely be counted on to score, rebound, facilitate and even guard one another.
Pierce and Gay have met a number of times since the latter came into the league back in 2006, with The Truth dominating the early matchups. However, things have been relatively even as of late, as the C’s star begins fading into the twilight of his career, while the Raptors stud is entering his prime.
If they wind up cancelling each other out in the scoring department, this is going to be an extremely close contest decided by the contributions of role players. If one gets the upper hand, their side will likely emerge victorious.
Keep an eye on both these talented wing players, as they will be the most intriguing matchup to watch—especially when guarding one another.
Predicted Starting Lineup and Reserves
Celtics Starting Lineup
G Avery Bradley
G Courtney Lee
F Paul Pierce
F Brandon Bass
Celtics Key Reserves
F Jeff Green
G Jason Terry
G Leandro Barbosa
Raptors Starting Lineup
G Kyle Lowry
G DeMar DeRozan
F Rudy Gay
F Andrea Bargnani
C Jonas Valanciunas
Raptors Key Reserves
G Alan Anderson
G Terrence Ross
F Landry Fields
F Amir Johnson
Any time the Celtics and Raptors step onto the court, you know it’s going to be an interesting game of basketball.
These competitors have met plenty of times over the years and generally have a good idea about what to expect, but that may change on Wednesday night. With the Gay trade and rash of injuries to the Celtics’ stars, there’s going to be a lot of schemes and plays never seen before.
Coach Doc Rivers (BOS) and Dwane Casey (TOR) will be instrumental in this one, as their ability to make adjustments and tweaks could be the No. 1 factor in deciding who wins this game.
For this reason, we’re giving Doc—a two-time coach of the year and NBA champion—an edge over Casey, who has a 93-143 career record and no playoff experience.
Celtics 98 – Raptors 95