BOSTON When you're a "professional" scorer like Paul Pierce, points have a way of coming in all kinds of ways.
Lately, Pierce has been making a living from the free throw line with Saturday's 107-89 win over Toronto being no exception.
Pierce had 19 points while going to the line for six attempts (all makes) which led all players.
It was a solid performance, albeit below his season average coming into the game of 10.6 free throws per game which prior to the game ranked fifth in the NBA.
Getting to the free throw line more was among the goals Pierce set for himself this season.
To do so would be a departure of sorts from how things have played out since he joined forces with Kevin Garnett prior to the 2007-2008 season.
Since Garnett's arrival and the C's immediately became a perennial title contender, Pierce has finished no better than 14th in the league in free throw attempts.
The year before Garnett arrived, he was eighth in the league with 8.6 free throw attempts per game. In 2005 and 2006, Pierce ranked 10th and fourth, respectively.
"We all know what the Captain can do," C's guard Jason Terry told CSNNE.com. "When he's attacking, being aggressive out there, it only makes us a better team. And if you can get him to the free throw line, that's easy points for both him and our team."
A career 80.8 percent free throw shooter, Pierce is connecting on 82 percent of his free throws this season.
In addition to Pierce getting to the line, there were other factors identified as potential keys to Saturday's game. Here's a review of those key factors, and how they actually played out as the C's defeated Toronto for the ninth straight time at home.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Celtics have not exactly lit up the scoreboard to start games, ranking 20th in first-quarter points with 23.2 per game. But that could change today against a Raptors team that tends to dig itself an early ditch by giving up 26.4 points in the first quarter which ranks 28th in the league.
WHAT WE SAW: True to form, the Raptors put themselves in an early ditch that the Celtics refused to let them completely dig their way out of on Saturday. Boston led 30-17 after the first. The 30 points scored in the first quarter were just three less than the C's season-high of points scored in the first (33 at Chicago, Nov. 12).
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs Andrea Bargnani: Garnett and Brandon Bass will likely switch off at times on Bargnani whose length and perimeter-shooting skills make him a scoring threat whenever you play the Raptors.
WHAT WE SAW: Garnett was an efficient impact player at both ends of the floor. Along with his 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting, Garnett also did a decent job of not allowing Bargnani to get into any kind of flow.
PLAYER TO WATCH: To the surprise of many, DeMar DeRozan landed an unusually large multi-year extension worth 40 million over four years last month. To his credit, he has put up some decent numbers this season - 20 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
WHAT WE SAW: This wasn't one of DeRozan's better games, tallying 10 points on 5-for-10 shooting from the field. It was a decent night shooting the ball, but at no point did it feel as though he had a major impact on the game, good or bad.
STAT TO TRACK: The C's have been a decent 3-point shooting team this season, ranking 11th in the league at 36.8 percent per game. That number will likely see a spike today against a Raptors team that has had problems defending perimeter shots all season. Opponents are shooting 41.3 percent on 3s against Toronto, the second-worst 3-point percentage defense in the NBA.
WHAT WE SAW: The Celtics were pretty consistent with most teams when it comes to shooting 3s against the Raptors, as the C's connected on 6-for-15 shooting (40 percent). But with so many easy looks off the dribble or on mid-range attempts, the Celtics didn't need the 3-ball that much to be effective.