The Celtics have had a pretty successful season to date as they head down the final stretch.
The Raptors? Well, they’ve had even more success than the Celtics… and more success against the Celtics, too.
The two teams will match up for the fourth and final time of the regular season Wednesday (7:30 p.m., CSNNE) with the Raptors holding a commanding 3-0 advantage.
Though the Celtics once again won’t have Jae Crowder on Wednesday, you won’t hear them making any excuses.
Simply put, they want to prove that they can roll with them. After all, there’s a chance both could meet at some point in the playoffs. The Raptors, who sit just 1.5 games behind the Cavaliers for the East’s top spot, certainly expect to be there until the end, anyways.
And that’s why by the time the media even got into the locker room after Monday’s win over the Magic, the focus had already shifted to a Raptors team that’s had their way against the Celtics.
Back in January, DeMar DeRozan exploded for 34 points against them. Last Friday, it was Kyle Lowry who went off for 32 points. Luis Scola dropped 17 in the first quarter of that one – yes, Luis Scola, 17 points, first quarter.
Needless to say, the C’s are itching to get another shot at the North. Avery Bradley agreed that his team needed to come out and make a statement after the way in which they lost last week.
“I always say it all the time: that's what the NBA is about. Getting the opportunities to play against the best guys and opportunities to redeem yourself against teams that beat you,” Bradley said. “And we get a chance on Wednesday."
Isaiah Thomas echoed his fellow guard’s statement on really wanting this one.
“We just gotta figure them out,” Thomas said. “They are a good team. They are playing at a high level right now. But they are beatable and we can beat them. We gotta protect homecourt and I think we can do that on Wednesday.”
One key for Boston, according to Thomas, is not allowing the Raptors to go up big right away. Toronto led by 16 at the end of one quarter last Friday, and stretched it to 19 a few minutes into the second quarter. The Celtics have proven that they can claw their way back into games, but against a great team like the Raptors, that’s a lot easier said than done.
Seeing is believing. A Celtics win on Wednesday can go a long way if these teams do end up seeing each other again down the road.
“To lose to them a few games,” Amir Johnson said, “we definitely want to beat them and show them before these playoffs start we can definitely beat this team.”