Fresh off a loss to one rising power in the NBA's Eastern Conference, the Celtics now must move on to another.
Still lacking Kevin Garnett, the Celtics went down hard in Atlanta on Friday night, losing 93-85 when their offense fell flat in the second half. Now the C's head north of the border, where they'll face a Toronto Raptors team that's won three straight games and has a firm grip on second place in the Atlantic Division behind Boston. The Celtics need this one to salvage a winning record on their first road trip of 2010.
When and Where
Sunday, Jan. 10, 1 p.m. ET (CSNE)
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Celtics (25-9, 1st place in Atlantic Division)
Raptors (19-18, 2nd place in Atlantic Division)
Head to Head
The Celtics are already 2-0 against the Raptors this season — they won once at home, 116-103 with six scorers in double figures, and once in Toronto, 103-96. Dating back three years, the C's have now beaten the Raps in 10 of their last 11 meetings.
After missing the playoffs last year in their first season under head coach Jay Triano, the Raptors look poised to bounce back this season. Chris Bosh is having another dominant season, Andrea Bargnani has begun to come into his own, and the big free-agent signing of Hedo Turkoglu has paid off big time for the Raptors, who are second only to Boston in the Atlantic standings and stand to make a playoff push in 2010. One question for the Raps, though — can they hold their own against a top East team? This could be a statement game for them.
Point guard: Rajon Rondo
Shooting guard: Ray Allen
Small forward: Paul Pierce
Power forward: Rasheed Wallace
Center: Kendrick Perkins
Point guard: Jarrett Jack
Shooting guard: DeMar DeRozan
Small forward: Hedo Turkoglu
Power forward: Chris Bosh
Center: Andrea Bargnani
The Celtics are 6-1 against the Atlantic Division this season.
They are sixth in the NBA with 813 steals.
Rajon Rondo is third in the NBA with 316 assists.
Paul Pierce is shooting 46.6 percent from three-point range, fourth-best in the NBA.
Ray Allen is now shooting 91.4 percent from the free-throw line.
Kendrick Perkins leads the Celtics with 65 blocks.
Rasheed Wallace has 14.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per game against the Raptors in his career.
The Raptors are 12-5 at home this season.
They have attempted 1,031 free throws, second-most in the NBA.
Chris Bosh is third in the NBA with 418 rebounds.
Andrea Bargnani leads the Raptors with 49 blocks.
Jarrett Jack has a team-high 31 steals.
Hedo Turkoglu is shooting 41.0 percent from three-point range this season, second-best on the Raptors behind Bosh (46.2 percent).
DeMar DeRozan has a total of 12 points and three steals in two career games against Boston.
Black and Blue
Eddie House returned to the Celtics Friday after a bout with flu-like symptoms, but Tony Allen is now under the weather as well. He is questionable.
Kevin Garnett has a hyperextended knee. He hopes to return next week.
Marquis Daniels is recovering from left thumb surgery. He is targeting around the All-Star break for his return to the Celtics.
Jose Calderon has missed a considerable amount of time over the past month due to hip soreness. He is currently coming off the bench for the Raptors and playing limited minutes.
Reggie Evans has a sprained left foot. He is out indefinitely.
This Date in Celtics History
In 1967, Red Auerbach coached the Eastern Conference in the NBA All-Star Game for the 11th and final time. The East lost, 135-120, as the Warriors' Rick Barry went off for 38 points. Auerbach earned a dubious distinction in the game — he became the first and only coach ever ejected from an All-Star Game.
"With Kevin, we?re just going to wait. The only thing you do know, historically, with hyperextended knees, if you want them to be 100 percent, you?ve got to allow it to heal 100 percent before you put them back in. Kevin could play today but then it would just get worse, it would get tighter, and we?re just not going to go down that road."
—Doc Rivers, in Saturday's Boston Globe, on the slow progress of Kevin Garnett's return to the Celtics.
The Celtics lost to the Hawks — again.
The plan was to out-rebound Atlanta.
Rajon Rondo still needs work as a shooter.
The Raptors beat Phildelphia on Friday.
Chris Bosh's future remains unclear.
Jose Calderon's not rocking the boat.
The Magic didn't need Vince Carter.
The Blazers are in trouble.
Gilbert Arenas leaves a bad mark on the NBA.
If the Raptors want to prove that the Atlantic Division race isn't going to be a runaway, they had best make a statement ASAP. The Celtics have already gotten the best of these Raptors twice, and they'll be out for blood on Sunday afternoon, looking for a third straight win over Toronto. Beating the Raps without Kevin Garnett is a challenge, but the C's did it last week, and they'll look to do it again. Stopping Chris Bosh will be a team effort, but the Celtics are all about team. They know how to get it done.