Last year the Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics finished first and second respectively in the Atlantic Division. The Raptors enter the 2015-2016 coming off an embarrassing playoff series against the Wizards, who handily swept them in four games. The Raptors hope to make it past the opening round of the playoffs for the first time since the 2000-2001 season.
The team made a flurry of off-season acquisitions, adding DeMarre Carroll, Luis Scola, Bismack Biyombo, Cory Joseph, and former number one draft pick Anthony Bennett. Toronto has a much deeper team this year and will be a tough opponent for the Celtics.
Isaiah Thomas: Thomas was huge for the Celtics in Wednesday’s game against the Sixers. He scored 27 points off the bench and collected seven assists. He re-energized the Celtics who started out sluggish. The Celtics will need Thomas’ energy off the bench against a very competitive Raptors squad.
Kyle Lowry: Lowry entered the 2015-2016 looking like a completely different player. He shed a bunch of weight and looks slimmer. In Toronto’s season opener against the Pacers, Lowry scored 23 points, dished six assists, and stole the ball twice. Lowry is both a gifted shooter and distributor who can impact a game with his presence.
Three Keys to Game
Silence DeRozan: DeMar DeRozan is an above-average scorer, but his Achilles heel is his inefficiency. DeRozan has the reputation of being a chucker, however he can score in bunches when he’s hot. Last season he averaged 20.1 points per game on 41.3% shooting from the field. Toronto struggles when DeRozan shoots a poor percentage, so the Celtics will need to shut him down.
Reserves Stay Productive: The Boston Celtics will need their bench to step up again if they hope to defeat the Raptors. The Raptors are armed with a stronger bench this year, even after losing last year’s Sixth Man of the Year, Lou Williams. The Celtics have a slightly deeper roster, but the team will need every reserve to play as well as they did opening night in order to defeat the Raptors.
Get Bradley Going: Avery Bradley’s shot wasn’t falling at all against the Sixers. He finished 2/6 from the field, scoring only four points. Bradley only attempted one 3-pointer and took a handful of long 2s. Bradley needs to get back into the same form he was in during preseason when he made over half of his 3-pointers.
Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll, Luis Scola, Jonas Valanciunas
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