Celtics-Raptors preview: Energy and effort

Celtics-Raptors preview: Energy and effort
March 13, 2013, 9:30 am
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BOSTON — There's no explanation for it. There are just some nights, regardless of how good or bad an opponent may be, when the energy level needed to compete, let alone win, isn't there.

The Celtics had one of those nights on Tuesday as the woeful Charlotte Bobcats walloped the C's, 100-74.

Fortunately for the Celtics, they will have a chance to redeem themselves tonight against a Toronto team that comes in having won two of its last three games. While the Celtics quickly shifted their focus towards the Raptors, they know the real key to victory will come down to two things -- energy and effort -- which were both sorely lacking Tuesday night.

That has to be a collective job by the Celtics, but it more often than not starts with Avery Bradley.

"I kind of put that blame on myself a little bit," Bradley said. "I know that's my role, to lift everybody's energy. We can't let that happen. All I can do is focus on (tonight's game), just like everybody else."

Bradley's ability to elevate not only his game but those around him will indeed be one of the keys for Boston tonight. Here are a few more factors that may come into play as the C's try to snap their current two-game losing skid against the Toronto.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: With Paul Pierce getting Tuesday night off and the C's in a mini-slump, you can expect Pierce will look to put his imprint on the game early. It wouldn't be all that surprising if he has a double-digit scoring effort in the first quarter for Boston.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Avery Bradley vs Kyle Lowry. It's hard to imagine any Celtics player taking Gerald Henderson's 35-point night harder than Bradley. Expect him to be invading Lowry's air space as much as possible. But Lowry continues to be one of the more under-rated point guards in the NBA. In his lone game against Boston this season, Lowry had 17 points, seven rebounds and eight assists before the C's came away with a 99-95 win on Feb. 6 in Toronto.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett is having his worst season shooting the ball since joining the Celtics (48.9 percent), and he comes into tonight's game with a two-game shooting percentage of just 24.1 percent. Boston will get Garnett the ball early and often. And if he gets on a roll, watch out Raptors.

STAT TO TRACK: Boston was minus-19 on the boards against Charlotte, but the C's should fare better -- a lot better -- tonight against Toronto who like the Celtics, have had their rebounding issues all season. The C's rank 29th (out of 30 teams) in rebounding with a 48.1 rebounds per game average. The Raptors are just ahead of them at No. 28, hauling in 48.2 per game. And when the C's win the battle on the boards, they are 12-4 this season.