The Celtics and Raptors are set to tip-off in the second round of the NBA playoffs. Some teams still aren’t safe from being eliminated in the first round. It’s still are unsure of how long Gordon Hayward will be out. However, the Celtics may still match up fairly well with Toronto.
The backcourt of both squads are amongst the elite in the eastern conference. Even with a thin bench, Boston has a core group of young guys that can score. Jayson Tatum is the first guy that comes to mind. Averaging 23.4 points and 7 rebounds in the regular season, he made the case for being in the MVP race. There’s no guard on the Raptors team that can match up with Tatum to defend him.
There is also no forgetting veteran Kemba Walker who’s been getting back to his full strength. At 20.4 points a game in the regular season, it garnered Walker an All-Star spot. However, that is no comparison to the depth the Raptors have at point guard. Reigning Champion and All-Star Kyle Lowry is also a major reason for the Raptor's success. Lowry averages just under 20 points but takes charges and plays both sides hard. Neither Walker nor Lowry will be able to completely stop the other. But the interesting factor may be Fred VanVleet. A guy who can pull up and shoot from the parking lot. Both Lowry and VanVleet are incredible, but undersized, which may be a factor down the stretch.
As for the Celtics, their bench may be thin but Marcus Smart will be crucial. His defense on both Lowry, VanVleet, and Siakam will be critical. Although he’s not the best shooter on the team, he will need to knock down shots.
There’s no question that the advantage of the frontcourt goes to Toronto. With the absence of Gordon Hayward for an indefinite amount of time, it’s even more clear. All-Star Pascal Siakam is just a hardworking player all around. He can shoot the three, drive to the basket, and knockdown free throws. Jaylen Brown for the Celtics will have to attempt to stop Siakam. Brown will ultimately be the key to the Celtics success.
As far as the Center position goes, the Celtics are at a huge disadvantage. Marc Gasol may have a field day of Boston isn’t careful. Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis allowed Embiid to average around 30 points in their last series. There’s no comparing Embiid and Gasol but both players are still good. Due to the lack of depth at that frontcourt position, Coach Brad Stephens will have to make some adjustments as the series goes on.
Raptors also have more depth in the frontcourt than the Celtics. Serge Ibaka may have a few games where he’ll be offensively dangerous.
Overall, the Raptors have championship experience on their side. Siakam, Lowry, and VanVleet know what it takes to win games. Their absence of Kawhi Leanard hasn’t stopped them from being explosive. Both teams are coming off two series sweeps so each squad has momentum. The Raptors are amongst the top of the league in scoring off of turnovers. So if Boston can take care of the ball, Celtics and Raptors can be a close series.
Featured Image Via Clutch Points