Celtics look to spoil Raptors’ home mojo
The visiting Boston Celtics can expect to see the best version of the Raptors on Monday night since Toronto seemingly takes things to the next level when it plays at home.
Toronto’s 121-108 triumph over the Orlando Magic on Saturday extended the team’s home winning streak to three games. The Raptors are 9-2 at home this season compared to 3-9 on the road.
It was a much-needed victory for the Raptors, who got off to slow starts in their two games leading up to Saturday’s matchup — a blowout loss at New Orleans and a nine-point road setback against the Nets. Toronto shot a season-high 56.0 percent from the field (47-for-84) against Orlando.
Toronto’s O.G. Anunoby tied his season high by scoring 32 points against the Magic. Pascal Siakam added 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Scottie Barnes finished the game with 17 points and a season-high 14 rebounds.
“We just wanted to regroup, be better,” Barnes said. “It was a bad feeling in the locker room (following the Brooklyn loss Friday).”
Siakam’s 26-point performance against Orlando moved him past Andrea Bargnani and into fifth place on Toronto’s all-time scoring list. He’ll enter Monday’s game with 6,604 points as a Raptor, which is 2,816 shy of Vince Carter for fourth all-time. Chris Bosh, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are the three players ahead of Carter.
Siakam, a 6-foot-9 forward, was selected with the 27th overall pick in the 2016 draft.
“This is a testament to, I mean, his skill level and his talent, but the work he puts in and just the relentless attitude and just how far he’s grown,” said Toronto’s Fred VanVleet, who signed with the Raptors as an undrafted free agent the same year Siakam joined the team. “It’s hard to find a trajectory like that in the league and he deserves a ton of credit for that.”
Boston is coming off Sunday night’s 103-92 victory over Brooklyn. It was the beginning of a six-game road trip for the Celtics, who received 34 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots from Jaylen Brown. Jayson Tatum added 29 points, 11 rebounds and four steals, but committed nine turnovers.
“In this league it’s hard to win, so we’re just trying to figure out different ways to play, different ways to win and having fun,” Brown said. “That’s what it’s about.”
Point guard Marcus Smart did not play against Brooklyn because of a hip contusion, but may return against Toronto. The Celtics have often rested players this season when they play on back-to-back nights.
Smart is averaging 11.8 points, 7.7 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 21 games.
Although Boston is among the NBA’s elite teams, the Celtics have struggled with turnovers recently. The Celtics turned the ball over 20 times during Friday’s 120-116 overtime home loss to the Heat, with Miami scoring 21 points off those turnovers. Boston committed 15 turnovers in the victory over Brooklyn and has had at least 14 giveaways in eight of its last 11 games.
–Field Level Media