Matchup: Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors
Records: Celtics (22-7), Raptors (21-10)
Where to Watch
Date: Dec. 28, 2019
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: TSN 4/5 (Canada) or NBA League Pass (USA)
Location: TD Garden, Boston, MA
The Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics are known for their tightly contested matchups over the past few seasons. While their first meeting of the 2019-20 season lived up to that hype, their second matchup on Christmas Day - riddled by injuries - was a larger margin in favour of the Celtics.
The Raptors had won an NBA-record 34 -consecutive games on their home court against opponents in their division. They had defeated the Celtics in Toronto in eight-consecutive trips up north with their last loss dating back to April of 2015.
The Celtics snapped both of those streaks on Christmas and have now taken a 2-0 regular season series lead over the Raptors.
Jaylen Brown was the star of the show on the holiday, going for a game-high 30 points on 10-for-13 shooting from the field, dazzling Toronto's defence with a variety of moves for impressive buckets.
Jaylen Brown led the team in scoring with 30 points for the first win in Toronto since 2015. pic.twitter.com/bcGhdT3Cnh- Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 26, 2019
The Raptors have had trouble containing the Celtics' young forward as Brown went for 25 points, nine rebounds and four assists in Boston's first meeting with Toronto earlier this season.
Without their leading scorer Pascal Siakam or key rotational guys like Marc Gasol and Norman Powell, the Raptors didn't have enough juice to hang with Boston on Christmas. But there were two bright spots in the game - Fred VanVleet and Chris Boucher.
VanVleet couldn't get much of anything to fall since returning from his knee injury, shooting 16-for-49 (25.8%) from the field and 3-for-19 (18.2%) from beyond the arc in his first three games back. He busted out of that slump on the holiday, going for 27 points shooting 11-for-21 (52.4%) from the field and 2-for-5 (40.0%) from three.
27 Pts | 6 Ast | 4 Reb | 4 Stl- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 25, 2019
Vote @FredVanVleet 👉🏽 https://t.co/kQYeprYRUk pic.twitter.com/uk5aTv0FxI
With the injury bug taking over the team, the Raptors need all the scoring they can get and VanVleet finding his efficiency will only benefit the short-handed team.
It was also encouraging to see Boucher staying ready, providing valuable minutes off the bench. The 26-year-old has seen sporadic playing time this season but has always stepped up whenever head coach Nick Nurse calls on him. Boucher had 24 points, six rebounds and two blocks in 28 minutes against the Celtics on Christmas and two games before that, went for 21 points, seven rebounds and four blocks in a win over the Mavericks.
He's provided a scoring punch on the offensive end and brings great energy to the boards and the defensive end, giving Nurse a reliable X-factor in the Raptors time of need with so many rotational players out.
Toronto will still be without Pascal Siakam (groin), Marc Gasol (hamstring) and Norman Powell (shoulder) against the Celtics this time around, but can they dig deep and come away with a hard-fought win over their rivals in Boston?
- Marc Gasol (hamstring) - Out
- Dewan Hernandez (ankle) - Out
- Norman Powell (shoulder) - Out
- Pascal Siakam (groin) - Out
- Matt Thomas (finger) - Out
- Vincent Poirier (finger) - Out
- Robert Williams (hip) - Out
- The Raptors hosted their first Christmas Day game three days back, coming in a loss to the Celtics.
- The Celtics beat the Raptors in Toronto on Christmas, marking their first win in Toronto since April 4, 2015.
- The loss to Boston on Christmas snapped the Raptors NBA-record 34-consecutive wins at home against teams in their division.
- The Celtics win on Christmas also marked the first time in 13 meetings against the Raptors that the road team won.
- Jaylen Brown has been the leading scorer in both of the Celtics wins over the Raptors this season.
Last Time They Played
Date: Dec. 25, 2019
Score: Celtics 118, Raptors 102
Celtics: Jaylen Brown - 30 points (10-13 FG), 6 rebounds, 4 assists
Raptors: Fred VanVleet - 27 points (11-21 FG), 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 4 steals