Friday night the Celtics were set to tip off against the Toronto Raptors, but alas we have no games for the foreseeable future. As we go through the next few weeks of what would have been the regular season, I’ll have some of the best games for the Celtics over the past few years against the teams they were supposed to face that night. Tonight, the C’s would have taken on the Raptors with an all-time head to head record of 56-40.
12-25-19: Basketball on Christmas is how teams in the NBA know they have made it. All eyes are on you, and they were on the Celtics on Christmas in 2019. Boston and Toronto opened the five-game slate, and early on the Celtics looked like they had a little too much eggnog giving up a 10-2 run. After a world-famous Brad Stevens timeout the C’s ended the first quarter with a 26-9 run. After the game, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said, “They hit us early, but I thought we recovered well.” Fred VanVleet had 27 points for the Raptors, and Chris Boucher had 24 off the bench. As has been the case for the Celtics for most of the 2019-20 season, it’s been live by the 3 or die by the 3. On Christmas day the C’s got the gift of the three-ball, going 14-33 from long distance. Jaylen Brown had a game high 30 on 10-13 shooting from the field. Kemba Walker scored 22 for the C’s, who also outscored the Raptors 24-4 in second chance points.
4-14-15: The morning of this game Brad Stevens sent a text to his team. It read, “We have an opportunity to compete and when you have an opportunity to compete, you compete as well as you can.” The Celtics, despite being under .500, were in the postseason. But they were taking on a Raptors team that was a top four team in the East. There were seven ties in the fourth quarter, but with 0.8 left Jae Crowder hit a jumper to put the C’s in front by two. Kyle Lowry’s shot was blocked by Evan Turner to seal up win #39 for the Celtics. The Raptors had a well-balanced attack, with seven players scoring in double figures, led by Lou Williams and Kyle Lowry who had a game high 16 points each. At the time the top scorers for the Celtics were Avery Bradley and Evan Turner who had 14 points each, while Isaiah Thomas scored 11 off the bench for the C’s in a test for the playoffs.
11-16-18: Say what you want about the C’s roster during the 2018-19 season, but this was projected to be a potential Eastern Conference Finals preview with the Kyrie Irving led Celtics and the Kawhi Leonard led Raptors. There were four ties in the fourth quarter, but clutch Kyrie showed up in this one. 17 points scored in the last 8+ minutes of the fourth quarter by the point guard, including scoring 11 straight for the C’s. Gordon Hayward said of the performance, “You catch yourself being a fan. When he gets into that mode, the whole arena knew where we were going, and so did the Raptors.” These teams went to OT, with Gordon Hayward and Kyrie scoring four each in the extra session. Kawhi had 31 points, and Serge Ibaka had 21 for the Raptors. But Kyrie Irving had 43 points and 11 assists, the first Celtics performance with numbers like that since Antoine Walker.
Who knows how this late season matchup would have turned out, but it probably would have been a good one.