Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics: Series Preview
Now the playoffs really begin. The second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs is set to begin and the second-seeded Toronto Raptors are taking on the third-seeded Boston Celtics. Both teams have come into the second round well-rested and un-tested as they both swept their first-round opponents.
The Toronto Raptors handled the Brooklyn Nets with ease and had a historic game four. In a 150-122 blowout, the Raptors bench put up 100 points. This is the first time that has ever happened. The Boston Celtics sent the Philadelphia 76ers packing after only four games to really put a damper in their “process.” On paper, the Raptors and Celtics will look to be a very close match up. This should be a very entertaining series to watch. Let’s break it down.
Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics Preview
The defending champs showed their dominance against the short-handed Brooklyn Nets in the first round. Led by Coach of the Year winner Nick Nurse, The Raptors don’t seem to be stopping any time soon. In game four of the first round, the Raptors did lose their All-Star point guard in Kyle Lowry with a sprained ankle. Lowry says he is ready to go, but look for Fred VanVleet to be playing more minutes as the Raptors easy Lowry back into action.
Key To Winning the Series For The Toronto Raptors: Size
The Raptors are a much bigger team than the Celtics and must use it to their advantage. They need to dominate in the paint and really utilize this opportunity. They are bigger at every position than Boston is, so this should help the Raptors be even more dominant at defense than they already are. This should also help the Raptors lock up Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. If the Raptors can contain those two, the Raptors should have no problems winning the series.
Key Player: Fred VanVleet
With Kyle Lowry coming off a sprained ankle, VanVleet is going to be called upon to eat some of those minutes. Against the Nets, he averaged a very productive 21.3 points, 7.8 assists, and 4.0 rebounds. In a contract year, It’s time for him to shine and show what he can do on his own. He has shown he can rise to the occasion come playoff time, but that was with a healthy Kyle Lowry. Can VanVleet prove he can be the guy and step into that role? I guess it’s time to find out.
The Celtics have also cruised into the second round after defeating the 76ers in four games. Just like the Raptors, however, they did not escape the first round unscathed. In game one, Gordon Hayward went down with an ankle injury and could miss the whole series. Hayward is a valuable secondary scorer for the Celtics behind Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. It will not be easy for the Celtics to try and replace his minutes, especially against a team as deep as the Raptors. Let’s see what the Celtics would have to do to knock the defending champs off their throne.
Key To Winning the Series For The Boston Celtics: Three-Point Shooting
With the Raptors having an obvious size advantage, points in the paint are not going to be easy to come by. The Celtics must be the better team from behind the arc and give themselves solid looks. With the Raptors being strong defensively, the Celtics would need to look to get a lot of their points off the transition as well. If the Celtics can do this, they could give the Raptors a lot of trouble.
Key Player: Jayson Tatum
This is a series where Jayson Tatum can really show he can be a star in this league. If the Celtics want to win this series, Tatum is going to have to be the best player on the floor and really dictate the game. The Celtics would want to see him not be afraid to get into the paint, but also dominate the three-point line. Raptors and Celtics fans have always gone back and forth about Jayson Tatum or Pascal Siakam being the better player. This series is where they can settle the debate.
These two teams will be very evenly matched and will be such a fun series to watch. The Celtics are a very young and skilled team. Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Jayson Tatum can easily take over a game and lead the Celtics to a few victories. The Toronto Raptors are the defending champions and know what it takes to win. They have the perfect mix of young guys and veteran players to go along with the coach of the year. The Celtics did win the regular-season series against the Raptors three games to one, but the playoffs are just a different animal.
Toronto Raptors defeat the Boston Celtics in six games.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images