The Boston Celtics look to snap a two-game losing streak when they take on the Toronto Raptors in a matchup of Atlantic Division rivals on Sunday. The opening tip of this contest is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
The Celtics are coming off an ugly 96-88 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night. Boston fell to 10-10 with the setback and is tied with the Philadelphia 76ers for third place in the Atlantic Division, one game behind the second-place New York Knicks.
Toronto is also coming off a loss, 114-97 to the host Indiana Pacers on Friday, its eighth in 11 games. The Raptors are 9-11 and in fifth place in the Atlantic, one game behind the Celtics and 76ers.
The Celtics will be missing a pair of starters, as guard Dennis Schroder is dealing with an ankle injury suffered against the Spurs and center Robert Williams III is out with an illness. Guard Jaylen Brown is also listed as questionable due to injury management, so it could be a depleted Boston team squaring off with the Raptors.
Without Brown and Schroder, much of the offensive load will be on forward Jayson Tatum, who leads the team with 25.1 points per game. Tatum had 24 points and 12 rebounds in the loss to San Antonio Friday, but he needs some help if the Celtics are going to get a win on the road.
Guard Marcus Smart has been hot and cold offensively of late, scoring 20 or more in two of the last five contests but also scoring in single-digits in two of those games. Smart is setting up teammates well, though, averaging 7.0 assists over that five-game span.
If Brown doesn’t play, the Celtics might get a lift from the return of guard Josh Richardson, who has been out with illness as well but joined the team on the road after Friday’s loss. Richardson is averaging 8.9 points per game this season but would likely be a bigger part of the rotation with Schroder and Brown out.
The Raptors are back at home after a six-game road trip that saw them go 2-4. Toronto is also dealing with injuries, with leading scorer OG Anunoby having missed five straight with a hip pointer and center Khem Birch out for the last two games with a knee injury.
“We’ve played a little up and down, like a young team might,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said after Friday’s loss. “We’ve had a lot of bodies in and out. We’ve got to solve that.”
Anunoby is listed as questionable for Sunday’s contest, and he would be a big lift to the Raptors if he can play. He’s averaging 20.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per contest, and he’s a solid perimeter defender that would likely matchup with Tatum.
Rookie Scottie Barnes has been playing very well, averaging 14.9 points and a team-high 8.3 rebounds per game. Guard Fred VanVleet has also become more of a scorer this season, averaging 19.7 points along with a team-best 6.7 assists per contest.
The Raptors’ defense has been very opportunistic, with guard Gary Trent Jr. among the league leaders with 2.1 steals per game, while VanVleet and Anunoby are averaging 1.6 and 1.5 per game, respectively.
Raptors Get Home Win
With the Celtics’ injury woes, Toronto should come out on top in this one. Tatum can’t do it all himself, and the Raptors are going to play better now that they’re at home.
When making your NBA picks, take Toronto to win and cover in this one.