The Toronto Raptors take on the Boston Celtics in a repeat of last season’s Playoffs Battle in the Bubble. While the Celtics are taking the baton from 2020, the Raptors increasingly look like a powerhouse of the yesteryear.
The Raptors lie 14th in the Eastern Conference table with just a single win to their name out of five games played. But what is causing this sudden downfall in form from their previous Playoff-laden seasons?
First and foremost, it is the unrelenting poor form of Pascal Siakam. He is carrying over his struggle from the Bubble to the 2020-21 NBA season, unlike Paul George. In the four games that he has played, he is averaging just 16.5 points with a measly 39.5% FG in 35.3 minutes.
Secondly, the decision to let go of veteran centers, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, in free agency is haunting them. They were the backbone of this team, both on and off the court. Playing away in Tampa, Florida is not helping their cause either.
So this game provides them with a source of motivation. Beating the Celtics might be the push they need to kick-start their NBA campaign.
Guard – Kyle Lowry
Guard – Fred VanVleet
Center – Aron Baynes
Forward – Pascal Siakam
Forward – OG Anunoby
This off-season saw some changes in the team. The much-maligned negativity around Gordon Hayward left Boston with him while Jayson Tatum was handed a well-deserved Super-max extension by the front office. They also snapped Tristan Thompson in free agency.
Although they came out of the blocks slowly, they are beginning to find their rhythm. And the vastly underrated Jaylen Brown has been leading the charge with 28.0 points and 1.7 steals inside 34 minutes. This places them 6th in the standings as of now.
Since it is a back-to-back, Brad Stevens may be tempted to rest Tatum from this encounter. They have already played 7 games in a gap of 10 days.
Guard – Marcus Smart
Guard – Jaylen Brown
Center – Daniel Theis
Forward – Tristan Thompson
Forward – Jayson Tatum
To the average NBA fan who has a peak at the table, Celtics may look like a no-brainer to emerge victorious in this contest. However, the Raptors have made a habit of pulling a rabbit out of the hat with coach Nick Nurse at the helm.
You can never count them out as most of the starters tasted championship success just a season ago. While the Celtics will look to continue their ascent up the table, don’t discount the Raptors from coming away with an unlikely win.
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