Well folks, this is it. The last day of the regular season and the last day the 2012-2013 Toronto Raptors will play.
The Raps take on the Celtics at the Air Canada Centre tonight and look to win their 5th straight, while also being winners of 6 of their last 7 games. Hopefully the push to get better stays consistent and the Raps give their hometown fans something to cheer about one more time before they say their goodbyes and head into the offseason.
The Celtics, meanwhile, will try to put aside the thoughts about the horrific incident at the Boston Marathon and return their focus to the hardwood. They are coming off of a win against the Magic and will be playing a game that really doesn’t hold much meaning for them. They are pretty much locked in to play the New York Knicks in the first round.
The Raptors will be giving a moment of silence tonight in tribute to Boston and the song, Sweet Caroline, is going to play during the Celtics’ introductions.
The Raptors will also be trying to win one for coach Dwane Casey, who celebrates his birthday today. Perhaps that will give the team extra incentive to win?
DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay have been great the past couple games. Coming off of his 36 point outburst against the Nets, DeRozan scored 30 on 11-17 shooting in a 113-96 route of Atlanta. He once again shot well from downtown for the second consecutive game, hitting 3-5 of his shots. Rudy added 22 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and a steal while shooting 9-14 from the field in 27 minutes of action.
These two have been nothing short of fantastic during the Raptors latest run and will need to be stellar again to defeat the gritty Celtics and their coach, Doc Rivers. In their previous game against Orlando, 7 Celts scored in double figures and the team shot 59.3% for the game. Courtney Lee tied a season-high in points, scoring 20, Garnett added 14 with 9 boards and Pierce netted 12, grabbed 6 rebounds and dished out 8 dimes.
“It’s a fine line between rest and health,” Pierce said. “Right now we’re as healthy as we’re gonna be for the rest of the season. … The most important thing is that we’re ready for the playoffs.”
Keys to the game:
1. Keep rolling: This is the last game of the season. Feel the fans’ energy and grab this one.
2. Run them out of the building: The Celtics are an older team and their stars, who have some miles on them, are preparing for the playoffs. This is where DeMar and Gay come in.
3. Contain Garnett and Bass: Amir Johnson and Aaron Gray have been great at dealing with opposing bigs lately and they’ll have another challenge in these two.
Key Matchup: Rudy Gay vs Paul Pierce
Rudy Gay: He has been on a roll lately and shooting much better than he was earlier in the season. He seems to be letting most of his shots come to him instead of forcing things and is playing more of a second-fiddle role to DeMar at the moment.
Paul Pierce: This guy has some of the best footwork in the league and at times, Rudy can look lethargic on defense. Pierce loves to show up big against opposing players whose names tend to mean something, and is still one of the most clutch players in the game. If Rudy makes him work on both ends of the floor, the Raps will have a better chance.
Game starts at 8:00PM ET.