The veteran Boston Celtics will take on the struggling Toronto Raptors Sunday afternoon in both teams' first preseason game of 2011-2012. The condensed offseason and training camp is sure to produce some interesting results that will attract fans of both squads.
Where: Toronto, Ontario, Air Canada Centre
When: Sunday, Dec. 18, 1:00 PM ET
Listen: Boston: WEEI-AM 850 Toronto: SN 590 The Fan
Over/Under: 195, according to covers.com. Both teams will no doubt be a little rusty as it's their first legitimate game action since last spring, so this total does seem a little high. Also take into consideration that neither team is incredibly explosive on the offensive end.
Line: Boston -3.5, according to covers.com. No gripes here. The Celtics are without question the better team on paper and have been for years now. Toronto will be a challenge playing at home with a younger roster, but the Celtics can surely do enough to cover.
Boston forward Jeff Green (aortic aneurysm). Green will miss the rest of the 2011-2012 season due to surgery that must be done to treat an aortic aneurysm.
What's At Stake For Boston?
The Celtics will tip off their championship run without young and promising forward Jeff Green, who was lost for the season on Saturday after it was learned he needs surgery to treat a serious medical condition.
Boston needs to discover a working rotation on Sunday afternoon and begin to mold the personnel groups and lineups that will lead them to regular-season and postseason success.
What's At Stake For Toronto?
The Raptors don't have to worry about any crippling injuries heading into the season just yet, but Sunday's matchup with division rival Boston will give them a chance to measure their players' growth over the extended summer.
The Raptors have a nice core featuring Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan, but several roster positions remain uncertain, and Sunday's perceived meaningless preseason game will go a long way in helping them fill in the gaps.
What They're Saying
The overwhelming chatter surrounding this preseason contest is centering on the recent news that Celtics' forward Jeff Green will be lost for the season.
Green averaged 9.8 points per game and 3.3 rebounds per game for Boston last season after coming over from Oklahoma City, and he was expected to build on his 23.5 minutes per game with the Celtics in 2011-2012.
This story has dominated the NBA chatter and will likely continue as more information is released.
Celtics Player to Watch
Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo is currently dealing with a bum ankle that has limited him throughout training camp.
It should be interesting to see how Rondo reacts on the court with his play following the various trade rumors involving his name along with Chris Paul's just weeks ago.
Raptors Player to Watch
Andrea Bargnani, Toronto's seven-foot Italian center, has improved every season with the Raptors. He averaged 21.4 points per game last year, which was the highest of any Toronto player.
The 26-year-old missed 16 games last season, and oddly enough he'll miss at least the same amount this year given the season's shortened, 66-game schedule.
The battle on the boards will be by far the best matchup to look at in this game. The Celtics were ranked 29th in the league last season in rebounds per game, but they used their No. 1-ranked scoring defense to make the playoffs and win a series against New York.
Toronto reeled in a little more than 40 rebounds per game last season as a team, ranking 21st in that category despite giving up the 26th-most points to opponents. It will be interesting to see how intense Reggie Evans is for the Raptors and how the Celtics fare on the glass without Glen Davis.
Celtics 95, Raptors 91