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Keys to the Boston Celtics-Toronto Raptors Series

Three-Point Shooting

Keys to the Boston Celtics Versus Toronto Raptors Series
Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics dribbling a basketball. Photo courtesy of celticslife.com.

Over the course of the 2019-2020 NBA season, both of these respective teams ranked in the top half of the league in three-point shooting.

The Toronto Raptors ranked fifth in the league in this category (shooting at 37.4 percent as a team). The Boston Celtics ranked 13th in the league in this category (shooting at 36.4 percent as a team).

The Raptors rank sixth in the league in 3-point attempts per game (shooting 37 attempts per game).

The Boston Celtics  rank 13th in the league in 3-point attempts per game  (shooting 34.5 attempts per game).

When these shots are falling this can be used to help create spacing. This creates open lanes to the hoop which in turn creates access to higher percentage shots.

For the Toronto Raptors players such as Fred Van Vleet, Kyle Lowry and Terrence Davis can be relied upon to knock down shots from deep on a consistent basis. For the Boston Celtics this burden falls to Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker.

Yet, when the players that are expected to hit shots from deep are performing their job this creates a opportunity for other role players to step up and play a bigger role in the series than expected.

Role Players

Keys to the Boston Celtics Versus Toronto Raptors Series
Photo of Daniel Theis standing.
Photo courtesy of theatlantic.com

One role player who can play a big role in this series is Daniel Theis. Theis played strong defense on Embiid in the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs. Theis did not back down from Embiid’s strong post play.

In fact his scrappy/savvy effort on the defensive end forced Embiid into almost fouling out on multiple occasions. With Ben Simmons out with an injury, the team relied more on Embiid. This is why Embiid averaged 30 points per game in the playoffs. Yet the defense played by Theis played a crucial role in the Boston Celtics sweeping of the Philadelphia 76ers.

If Theis continues to play physical defense he could frustrate both Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka of the Toronto Raptors. If this occurs look to see how Nick Nurse and his bench respond. Throughout the 2020 playoffs the Toronto Raptors bench have led the league in bench points per game at 56.5.

Turnovers

Keys to the Boston Celtics Versus Toronto Raptors Series
Jaylen Brown dribbling a basketball. Photo courtesy of the Boston Celtics.

While role players play a crucial role in moving a team forward, they can also play a big role in moving a team in the opposite direction. This often occurs in the form of a turnover.

Both Serge Ibaka (2.0 TOPG) and Marc Gasol (2.3 TOPG) of the Toronto Raptors struggled with turnovers during the 2019-2020 NBA regular season.

For the Boston Celtics Jaylen Brown (2.2 TOPG) and Brad Wannamaker (1.1 TOPG) of the Boston Celtics struggled with turnover issues during the 2019-2020 NBA season.

This becomes even more critical because of how many points both of these teams score on the fast break. So far during the 2019-20 NBA Playoffs the Toronto Raptors have averaged 16.2 points per game on the fast break (first in the NBA). The Boston Celtics have averaged 14.6 points per game on the fast break (ranking third in the NBA).

For the Celtics, they look to swing the ball to Jaylen Brown  on the break, as he has an insane vertical and a vast amount of speed.

The Raptors look to get the ball to Pascal Siakam on the break as he has a unique ability to use his long frame to find his way to the rim at will.

In this series there will be a lot of strong defensive efforts turning into offense on the other end.

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