NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs
August 27: Boston Celtics versus Toronto Raptors
The Boston Cetlics enter the series coming off a sweep of the Philadelphia 76ers. Similarly, the Raptors took down the Brooklyn Nets in four games, setting up this Eastern Conference Semifinal showdown.
The Celtics won three of the four regular season meetings between the two teams. The Raptors come into Game One as a 1-point favorite with an over/under of 216 ½.
The Celtics will be without Gordon Hayward, which puts even more pressure on the “big three” of Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, and Jaylen Brown.
Tatum torched the 76ers for 27 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Walker added 24.3 per contest, and Brown averaged 21.5.
The next highest in points per game in the first round was Daniel Theis and Marcu Smart, averaging 8.5 per game.
Toronto showed considerable depth in the first round. Fred VanVleet paced the team scoring 21.3 points and 7.8 assists per game.
Pascal Siakam showed why he is an All-Star, adding nearly 25 points and eight rebounds. Serge Ibaka could give Theis fits underneath, averaging 19.3 and 10.3 per game against the Nets.
Norman Powell, Kyle Lowry, and Terrence Davis all averaged in double-digits, combining to add 42 points per game.
Comparing the teams in major statistical categories, the Raptors averaged a whopping 126.3 points per game versus the Nets, while the Celtics scored 112.3 per contest against the 76ers.
The Raptors have a 51 to 43.3 rebounding average edge, while the Celtics are the top team defensively this postseason, giving up only 100.5 points per game.
Both teams are taking care of the ball, turning the ball over a combined 22.5 times per game. Toronto has been better from long range, converting at 43 percent.
Although the regular season games were generally one-sided between these teams, it’s the playoffs and will likely see much tighter games.
The Celtics will have some issues with lack of depth with Hayward out. That will be the key to the first game.
Toronto’s second unit will get the most of Boston’s, giving them the edge. Expect the defenses to be stellar. Take the “under” and for the Raptors to win and cover.