The Celtics will be traveling up to Toronto to take on the Raptors in a big Eastern Conference showdown.
Right now, the Celtics are sitting at the second seed, while the Raptors are in the fourth seed. The Eastern Conference is in a tight race right now with the second to the sixth seed being less than a game apart.
One of the surprises this season is how well the Raptors have stayed in form despite losing Kawhi Leonard in free agency. Despite being the undisputed star of the team the Raptors have found themselves right in the playoff discussion without Leonard.
The Celtics were able to add Kemba Walker during free agency as well. He has fit right in as he is leading the team in points and assists per game.
What to expect?
So far, these two teams are nearly evenly matched. Less than one point separates these teams in offensive and defensive rating. It should be a great way to start off Christmas Day with what should be a tight game.
The big issue for the Raptors though is the injuries. This season they have been riddled with injury but have still found a way to win. Aside from injuries though it is hard to pinpoint exactly how this game could go with two evenly matched teams. The biggest difference between these two is in the post.
Down low the Raptors big men outclass the Celtics. The tandem of Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka is much more experienced in big situations than the Celtics Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter. This now comes back to the injury issue that the Raptors are facing. With Siakam, VanVleet, Gasol and Powell out it will essentially be up to the bench to carry this game. For the Celtics, really the only injuries they’re dealing with is Gordon Hayward being day-to-day and Marcus Smart’s absence. Meaning that they are pretty much fully stacked.
Despite the Raptors finding success with injuries, winning a big game like this will be made that much more difficult without several of their key players.
This game will likely come down to a grit and grind style of ball. The Raptors are going to have to play aggressive if they want any shot of success. The Celtics, on the other hand, don’t need to change their game plan a whole lot.
If the injuries were more evenly distributed across the teams this game would very likely go to the Raptors. Playing in Toronto is difficult enough, but for a divisional game that has playoff implications? That makes it a whole lot tougher.
But, since the Raptors are lacking a lot of their core the Celtics are much more likely to win the first game of Christmas day.
Celtics 115- 110 Raptors