Saturday, September 24, 2022

Preview: Boston Celtics (47-28) at Toronto Raptors (42-32)

In a matchup between teams on the rise in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics visit the Toronto Raptors on Monday night.

The Celtics (47-28) will be out to clinch the season series with the Raptors (42-32) after winning two of the first three games between the teams.

With their 134-112 home victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night, the Celtics moved into a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with the Miami Heat.

The Raptors moved into sixth in the East with their 131-91 home victory over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.

“We haven’t said anything to the team about standings or any of that,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “Just continue to play the right way and build on what we’ve been doing well.”

Jayson Tatum scored 34 points and Jaylen Brown had 31 points Sunday for the Celtics, who extended their winning streak to six games.

“I think the main thing that we’ve seen is consistency over the last few months,” Udoka said. “A lot of areas that we’ve really targeted offensively — sharing the ball, defensively coming out with that mindset. And then playing with a sense of urgency, getting off to better starts, and so consistency is what we’ve done. There’s no reason to go back on that. We see the success it’s brought us, and the unselfishness is contagious.”

The Celtics could be short-handed for the game Monday. Robert Williams left the game Sunday in the third quarter with a left knee sprain and did not return. Al Horford did not play Sunday for personal reasons. Brown and Tatum have been dealing with sore knees.

“We’ve got some guys who have got some nicks now and we have to be smart about it,” Udoka said. “If we can get guys one (game off) is what we’re looking at now.”

In their game on Saturday, the Raptors were leading 66-38 with 4:05 remaining in the first half when play was suspended for about 70 minutes because of a speaker fire. Fans were evacuated for the remainder of the game.

“During the game, I looked up and that whole section was cleared out and I was trying to figure out why or what happened or I was like geez, wonder why they didn’t sell those seats,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “Then I saw the firemen standing there.”

Pascal Siakam scored 23 points for the Raptors, who moved past the Cleveland Cavaliers by one game in the Eastern Conference. Toronto is one game behind the fifth-place Chicago Bulls.

OG Anunoby scored 16 points in his second game back after he was out for 15 with a broken finger. Nurse described Anunoby’s return as “seamless.”

“He hasn’t had to hunt shots or wonder when he can take them,” Nurse said. “He’s getting some good kickouts and they’re sharing it. It’s good to see. I like when he’s at the end of kickouts.”

The Raptors have won eight of their past 10 games and have six of their final eight regular-season games at home.

“The point is, I feel like we can play against anybody any night, but we also have to understand that we need to play against everybody every night,” Nurse said. “There’s not going to be any wins handed to us. We have to play really hard and connected and together to beat anybody.”

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