Boston Celtics (4-3) @ TORONTO RAPTORS (1-4)
7:30, NBC Sports Boston
Kevin Scott (#24), Mitchell Ervin (#27), Jenna Schroeder (#84)
Boston: Jeff Teague (Out, left ankle sprain), Marcs Smart (Out, right thumb sprain), Javonte Green (Out, Health and Safety Protocols), Romeo Langford (Out, right wrist surgery rehab), Kemba Walker (Out, left knee strengthening)
Toronto: Patrick McCaw (Out, left knee surgery rehab)
Spread: Toronto -5.5
Money Line: Toronto -225, Boston +195
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Icon Edition vs. Association Edition
3 Things to watch for
1. The impact of the depleted backcourt
Marcus Smart and Jeff Teague are both out tonight. So how does Brad Stevens adjust?
Most likely it’s with Payton Pritchard as the starter and Tremont Waters as the back up. We could see some Carsen Edwards, which might not be a bad thing, actually.
Edwards, at least so far, has shown that he can get hot if the gets a lot of minutes. He has not been great in short stints off the bench, but with time to shoot himself into a rhythm, he might be able to contribute.
We could also see some Aaron Nesmith minutes as Stevens uses this as an opportunity to try different combinations.
“I think it’s a lot less to me about starting than it is about figuring out how you can manage the rest of the game and make sure that our guys are in great position to be successful,” Stevens said. “It’s kinda the same question that I’ve answered a bunch with the double big. I know down the road we’re going to have to be able to play that lineup, I know when Kemba comes back that we won’t nearly as much. But I think that this is a time where we’re going to have to figure out, especially with Smart out and how good Lowry and VanVleet are, we’re going to have to figure out how to manage the whole 48 minutes.”
With that in mind…
2. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown’s minutes
They’re young, they can handle a few extra minutes in the early going, but Brad Stevens probably doesn’t want to tax these guys too much, too soon. I’m very curious how he handles them this game.
3. Which teams can fix its flaws?
The Raptors currently have the NBA’s 4th best defensive rating and worst offensive rating. The Celtics have the 10th best offensive rating and they’re 24th defensively.
So we have the Raptors who can’t score going against a team that hasn’t stopped anyone. We have the Celtics who have scored in bunches facing a team that has stopped everyone.
Which team can figure itself out tonight and buck the early season trend?
And if you think the Celtics are the only team trying to sort itself out, here’s Nick Nurse before tonight’s game.
Nurse rips into TD and Matt for "giving up boatloads of points in short amount of minutes, and they can't get that many back on the other end."
Credits Yuta and Len for holding serve defensively. Says any offense from them is "bonus" but they rebound. pic.twitter.com/VENTmCfbEH
— William Lou (@william_lou) January 4, 2021
1 thing I’d like to see
This is an opportunity to get Aaron Nesmith’s confidence up. The Raptors are struggling to find solutions for the bench wing situation, so it would be nice to see a couple of set plays run specifically for Nesmith.
I’d like to see the Celtics get him some good, clean looks so he can see some shots fall, maybe something going to the basket early and then find something for him playing off of Brown or Tatum in the corner.
This game could get messy, but it’s a chance for the Celtics to get Nesmith some much-needed minutes. Lean into that and take this opportunity to get him going a little bit.