2020 Playoff Preview: Boston Celtics vs Toronto Raptors
Boston Celtics vs Toronto Raptors
The Celtics and Raptors are set to play the Eastern Conference Semifinals after a week of intense reflection and action for the NBA. The league has issued new commitments to addressing inequality and racism, and, for now, the playoffs will resume.
The matchup between these two clubs will feature two of the best defenses in the league, as Toronto and Boston rank second and fourth in defensive rating respectively. Here’s what you need to know:
Kyle Lowry vs Marcus Smart
An under the radar matchup to keep an eye on will be the battle of Marcus Smart going against Kyle Lowry. Lowry is the engine of this Toronto team; his playmaking, defense, and energy has changed momentum in so many big games.
I don’t expect Kemba Walker to be able to defend him so the challenge falls to Boston’s best defender. Smart will need to harass Lowry on every offensive possession, this will derail a Toronto offense that has a tendency to get stuck in the mud on occasions. (It will also be interesting to see which player draws the most charges.)
Jayson Tatum vs Pascal Siakam
While Lowry and Smart is a key matchup that has the potential to swing the series, the battle of the two All-Star wings will ultimately decide who goes to the next round. This could be a coming-out party for either of these young stars.
Siakam only played in two of Toronto’s games against Boston this season, scoring 33 points in a losing effort back in October and scoring just 11 points in a loss in the Bubble seeding games. Siakam still has something to prove, especially in the postseason with Kawhi Leonard in Los Angeles. The Raptors need Siakam to be at his best.
While Lowey is probably the best perimeter defender on the Raptors, OG Anunoby will be the most important.
At 6’7”, he will get a lot of time guarding both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in this series. Anunoby’s defensive ability will be on full display for a national audience, and if he can at least contain one of Boston's two scoring wings, Toronto will be well on their way to victory.
While it seems like these teams are even, it's difficult for me to see Boston losing this series. The Celtics’ shot creation could overwhelm Toronto’s defense. I expect Tatum and Brown to have a great series and for the Boston Celtics to win this series in 6 games.