In one of the five NBA Christmas Day games, the Boston Celtics will travel to Toronto to take on the defending champion Raptors. Christmas Day is an excellent benchmark to check in and see where the top teams fall in line in the league. The Celtics are sitting at 20-7 this year, while the Raptors are 21-9 so far on their road to defending their title.
New Point, Same Success
The Celtics enter this game as slight favorites on the road. The Raptors will be a tough test after the Celtics have rattled off three straight wins leading to this road trip.
With the offseason addition of Kemba Walker at the point guard position, the Celtics have a new leader in points and assists. Walker is averaging 22.6 points per game, along with 5.4 assists. Walker has been an excellent addition to the Boston squad, giving them a top scorer and someone that can help the team without the ball in his hand.
Boston has been averaging 111.2 points per game while allowing 103.2. The Celtics have also been shooting a .456 field-goal percentage. The Celtics are 7-3 over their last 10 games.
The best part about the Christmas Day games is we get to see a lot of probable playoff previews, and this should be a preview of two top teams from the Eastern Conference to start the day.
Moving On Well
Toronto is doing everything it can to put together a title-defending run this season without the help of Kawhi Leonard. A lot of people thought the Raptors might fall entirely off the top of the standings after last season, but with a few young players emerging, they have found a way to stay relevant and still have a chance in a somewhat weak Eastern Conference.
The Raptors were on a four-game winning streak before losing their last game in overtime to the Pacers in Indiana. They will be back at home for Christmas and this game.
While the Raptors have been good so far this season, their recent wins have not come against anyone worth noting. As I said before, with Christmas games, we get a lot of big-name matchups, and this should be a good test for both teams.
Toronto is averaging 112.1 points per game while allowing 106.4. The Raptors are almost identical with the Celtics across the board when it comes to rebounds, shooting percentage, and assists, as neither seems to have a significant advantage.
Leading the Raptors this season with the departure of Leonard has been Pascal Siakam. The power forward has been a pleasant surprise for the team since day one, and he has stepped into a more prominent role this season.
However, Siakam is currently listed as out on the injury report for this game, which will play a significant role in deciding this one. Siakam is leading the team with 25 points and eight rebounds per game, and the Raptors will need someone else to step up again as he and three other players are already listed as out.
What To Expect
The Celtics are favored in this game on the road simply because of the injuries in Toronto. Without Pascal Siakam or Marc Gasol, this could be a game for Boston’s rebounding leader, Enes Kanter, to thrive in the paint and keep the ball in the Celtics possession.
The Raptors will not just lay over in this one; they still have a lot of talent around the perimeter, and the Celtics don’t have so much more talent that I see them running away with this one. I do think the Celtics get the win on the road here, but I don’t think it will be by more than 10.