NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, March 28th (All times Eastern)
Boston Celtics (23-48) at Toronto Raptors (40-31), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - After picking up a rare win in Boston, the Toronto Raptors will be back on familiar ground when they host the Celtics Friday from Air Canada Centre.
Terrence Ross led the Raptors with 24 points in a 99-90 triumph, while Kyle Lowry continued his recent tear with 23 and nine rebounds. DeMar DeRozan rounded out the 20-point scorers with exactly that many and Jonas Valanciunas ended with 15 points and 14 rebounds for Toronto, which has alternated results in the last six games.
The Raptors broke an 11-game losing streak in Boston, last winning there on Jan. 23, 2008.
"That was a character test for us," said Toronto head coach Dwane Casey. "I think this team has a lot of character. Situations were not there yet, but again its not from a lack of fight and togetherness."
Casey needs three wins to reach 100 victories with the team. The Raptors last posted 40 total wins in a season in 2009-10 (40-42) and the fastest team to reach 40 wins was the 1999-00 squad after 70 games. The current unit needed 71 games to reach the mark.
Lowry has scored 19 or more points in each of the last 11 games, averaging 22.5 points in that span. DeRozan is averaging more than 20 points per game against Atlantic Division foes.
Toronto leads the division by 2 1/2 games ahead of Brooklyn and is even with Chicago for the third spot in the Eastern Conference. Toronto is 21-14 north of the border this season.
Boston has lost two in a row and nine of its last 12 games, and was paced by Jared Sullinger's 26 points (19 in fourth quarter) and eight rebounds on Wednesday.
"Sully (Sullinger) got hot and I thought even though we were really undersized we played pretty well in that time," said Boston head coach Brad Stevens.
Avery Bradley had 16 points, Rajon Rondo chipped in nine and 15 assists and Chris Johnson added 13 points off the bench. The Celtics shot 41 percent from the floor and had a 51-7 advantage from their reserves.
The Celtics will try to stop an eight-game road losing streak in Toronto and have an 8-26 mark as the visitor. Their previous road win was Feb. 10 against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Celtics forward Jeff Green had six points in 20 minutes on Wednesday and is bothered by a stiff neck. Green hopes to play against the Raptors. Rondo needed stitches to close a cut on his forehead and returned to the game to cover Raptors All-Star DeRozan.
"I think it obviously says a lot. He wants to play and not only, I think the most important part about it is he came back in and guarded DeRozan (DeMar)," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of Rondo. "He went after it and I thought he did a pretty good job on him."
Toronto is 2-1 against the Celtics this season, but the latter has prevailed in four of the last seven meetings between the teams. Boston has lost two straight, four of five and five of its last seven trips to Canada.
03/28 10:30:03 ET