Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs Boston Celtics
Records: Raptors (21-9), Celtics (20-7)
Where to Watch
Date: Dec. 25, 2019
Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
TV: SN1 (Canada) or ESPN (USA)
Location: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON
The NBA's five-game Christmas Day slate begins in Canada as the Toronto Raptors host the Boston Celtics.
There's some history in play as it is just the second time in Raptors franchise history that they'll take the floor on Christmas Day and the first time that they'll do so at home. As for the Celtics, 2019 marks the fourth consecutive year that they will take the floor on the holiday and the 33rd all-time.
MORE: Raptors guide to Christmas Day
While Toronto is 0-1 on Christmas, Boston is 14-18 all-time on the holiday.
In recent years, the Celtics have had very limited success in Toronto; since earning a road win over the Raptors in April of 2015, the Celtics have dropped their last eight games north of the border.
Toronto has asserted its dominance over Boston - and the rest of the Atlantic Division - at Scotiabank Arena for some time now.
It's the third game in four days for the Raptors, who are coming off of a hard-fought overtime loss to the Indiana Pacers. Kyle Lowry, the East's reigning Player of the Week, led the way for the Raptors with 30 points (on 10-for-21 shooting), nine assists and six rebounds.
MORE: Thoughts from Raps OT loss to Pacers
Fred VanVleet struggled from deep (1-for-8) but finished with 21 points to go along with 11 assists. Starting in place of Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka finished with 23 points an nine rebounds and OG Anunoby also posted a double-double with 15 points and 12 boards.
The Raptors will again be shorthanded with Gasol, Norman Powell and Pascal Siakam all listed as out for Christmas Day. Ibaka and Anunoby will be looked upon to step up along with Patrick McCaw, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris Boucher and Malcolm Miller as Nick Nurse has gotten the most out of his rotational players in the absence of key contributors.
Boston, on the other hand, will likely be well-rested after being off two days since earning its most recent win over the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday.
Jayson Tatum led the way for the C's with a career-high 39 points (on 15-for-29) shooting to go along with 12 rebounds in the win. This season, the third-year forward is averaging career-highs of 21.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists through his team's first 27 games.
It's Tatum's third Christmas Day game and he's amped to continue to make memories on the holiday.
Before I was in the league I remember Kyrie hitting the game winner against Warriors on Xmas...Finals preview! Now making my own memories on Xmas. Got my first win last year and want another. All I want for Christmas...#NBAXmasMemory- Jayson Tatum (@jaytatum0) December 23, 2019
The only player averaging more than Tatum? Free-agent acquisition Kemba Walker, who is putting up 22.6 points per contest to go along with a team-high 5.4 assists per game. When the Celtics hosted the Raptors earlier in the season, Walker finished with 22 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks.
This marks the first time in Walker's nine-year career that he will play on Christmas Day, setting the stage for a battle of All-Star point guards that are both making their debut on one of the biggest days on the NBA calendar.
Rounding out the Celtics top three leading scorers is fourth-year guard Jaylen Brown, who is averaging an efficient 19.8 points per game (on 50.4% shooting) this season. Brown finished with 25 despite being tasked with the defensive assignment of guarding Siakam the first time these two teams met; with Siakam out, Brown could be primed for a big night offensively.
Should Boston reverse its recent misfortune at Scotiabank Arena, it begins with the trio of Walker, Tatum and Brown. For the shorthanded Raptors, it will take contributions from across the board to get a statement win on Christmas Day.
- Marc Gasol (hamstring) - Out
- Dewan Hernandez (ankle) - Out
- Norman Powell (shoulder) - Out
- Pascal Siakam (groin) - Out
- Matt Thomas (finger) - Out
- Gordon Hayward (foot) - Probable
- Vincent Poirier (finger) - Out
- Marcus Smart (eye) - Out
- Robert Williams III (hip) - Out
- The Raptors are one of five teams that have never hosted a Christmas game joining Charlotte, New Orleans, Minnesota and Memphis
- Serge Ibaka and Patrick McCaw are the only players on Toronto's roster that have played a Christmas game.
- Kemba Walker is the only Celtics veteran that has not played on Christmas Day.
- Walker and Kyle Lowry are two of three 2019 All-Stars making their Christmas debuts (Nikola Jokic)
- Of the 10 teams playing, Toronto is tied with Denver for fewest players with Christmas Day experience.
- The Raptors have won eight straight over the Celtics in Toronto; the Celtics last road win over the Raptors came on April 4, 2015.
- Enes Kanter and Serge Ibaka were teammates with the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2015-16 season.
Last Time They Played
Date: Oct. 25, 2019
Score: Celtics 112, Raptors 106
Celtics: Jaylen Brown - 25 points (11-20 FG), 9 rebounds, 4 assists
Raptors: Pascal Siakam - 33 points (11-22 FG), 8 rebounds, 2 assists