The Toronto Raptors tip off their new season facing a familiar Atlantic Division opponent, the Boston Celtics. It’s really important for the Raps to show the world they are a serious team, hungry to make the playoffs. Even though Boston lost Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry in the offseason, Toronto can’t go soft on this team. They still have an perennial all-star named Rajon Rondo and is one of the best point guard in the league too. Firstly, Raptors must play physical, play hard, hustle and be tough, just as we can expect the Celtics to be. Toronto will need its power forwards and centres to control the physicality and by grabbing offensive and defensive rebounds. Dive for loose balls.
Next, the Raps must control the tempo of the game by making smart decisions, distributing the basketball and minimizing turnovers. Can the Raps win the assist battle? If so, that will show effective passing.
Boston Celtics has some inactive players. Perennial all-star point guard Rajon Rondo is injured and forward Jared Sullinger is suspended for domestic violence. Raptors must take advantage of the shorthanded Boston squad and play well. Kyle Lowry will have a much easier time completing his passes with no Rondo, a defensive pest of the highest grade, to worry about.
Boston’s offense will be led by Jeff Green, an underrated power forward. If the Raps can control him, winning will be in the cards. Divisional games are so important. The easiest way to make the playoffs is to win the division. Most analysts have forecast the Brooklyn Nets to win the Atlantic Division, but after that team it’s wide open.
This game is going to be very competitive. I think the Raps will overcome their opening night jitters and send the fans home happy with a 103-92 victory.