Raptors (2) vs Celtics (3)
What a series this is going to be! I am so excited for it. Fun fact : this will be the first playoff meeting between these two teams. I honestly don’t know who to pick for this. Let’s do a break down and I’ll see if I have a prediction by the end of it.
The regular season matchup went the way of the Celtics, 3-1, including a recent beatdown in the bubble. There is obviously no home court advantage in the bubble, so don’t put to much stock in the regular season results. Gordon Hayward is still out for the Celtics and will be missed a lot. Javonte Green is also out for Boston. Kyle Lowry is listed as probable for game 1. No other injuries at this stage, hopefully that remains the same. I don’t want anything to get in the way of this series.
This will be a fantastic defensive matchup. We should see some ugly and scrappy basketball. Every game will be a hard fought victory. It’s hard to imagine any blowouts in this series. The line has been set at 217.5 and it should be safe to take the unders in every single game. I have to imagine the line will shrink closer to tip off and as the series goes on. A tri-bet, of either team 7 points or less should also be safe betting in every game.
The key here is what team (or more specifically what player) will be able to get it going offensively. I think it will come down the matchup between Siakam and Tatum. Who will prove the better leader for their team? Both players are capable of creating their own shot and are very important to the success of their team. At the time of writing, there isn’t any prop bets listed, but look for both players around 20+ points. Siakam should be a guaranteed double/double. It’s hard to see VanVleet cooling off, but Boston will surely be aware of how hot he has been lately. I suspect they will be closing out hard on shooters. This should make for some easy assists and will help Siakam get going. Brown and Smart will have their work cut out for them on defense.
Both of these teams love to get out and play in transition. The Raptors are the top ranked transition scorers in the league, closely followed by the Celtics as the second best. On the other end though, Boston are the best transition defense in the league. Recently, Toronto have not been anywhere near as successful at stop teams from scoring in transition. They were actually the worst ranked team in the bubble at stopping transition scoring. If that continues to be true and the pace of the game picks up, the advantage shifts to Boston.
Don’t just watch the players, this will be a great coaching battle as well. Nick Nurse v Brad Stevens. Both of them are very intelligent coaches. I don’t have any insight here on who has the edge, but I am excited to see who comes up with the best strategies. The coaches will play a very large role in their teams success in this series.
Speaking of the sidelines, the Raptors have the edge in depth. Depending on what line-ups the coaches go with, the Raptors may have the advantage when the coaches rest the starters. Remember, the Raptors bench scored 100 points in a game recently. Although, that wasn’t on as good a defense as Boston. I’m not sure who will start at centre for Toronto, but the combination of Ibaka/Gasol have the edge over Theis/Kanter.
After typing this up and going over my notes and the stats (over and over again) I still have no idea who is going to win this series. There so many good players to watch in this. Who will step up? Tatum, Brown, Walker and Smart will all be key for Boston. Lowry, Siakam, VanVleet and Anunoby for Toronto. I have listed more advantages for Toronto than I have Boston, so I guess I have to go with the Raptors. It’s hard to see this series being any less than 6 games. The basketball nerd in me is hoping for the full seven. This could be one of the best matchups we see in the 2020 playoffs. Give me Toronto in 7!