Celtics 81, Raptors 73: Rajon Rondo, C's Top Toronto In Preseason Finale

Rajon Rondo finished with 17 points and Greg Stiemsma added seven points as the Boston Celtics defeated the Toronto Raptors, 81-73, in the preseason finale for both teams on Wednesday night at TD Garden in Boston, MA.

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Celtics Overtime: Rajon Rondo's Improving Shot And The Stiemroller

Celtics Overtime is a postgame feature providing extra news, notes and analysis from each game. On Wednesday, the Boston Celtics defeated the Toronto Raptors, 81-73, in an exhibition.

What a long preseason, huh? Two games and we're already done. Due to the limited amount of time we had to see players in action, it's tough to judge the level of play that we saw from the 17 players on the Celtics' roster. Alas, we can only go with what we were given, and there certainly were players who stuck out.

Rajon Rondo Is His Same Old Flashy Self (Plus More?)

What's gotten into Rajon Rondo? The Celtics' flashy point guard was at his usual tricks again on Wednesday night, dishing out pretty passes here and there to impress the crowd. He did something else, too -- he made his jumpers. I know, shocking. Rondo finished the game 6-of-10 from the field with a team-high 17 points. Is this a new trend? Probably not, considering he did so against the Raptors. However, you have to think that Rondo has been putting time into his shot. If not, that would be irresponsible. If Rondo does develop a consistent jumper, he will finally reach superstar status.

Jermaine O'Neal, Brandon Bass Making Strong Impressions

If anyone had said that Jermaine O'Neal would be one of the best looking Celtics through this stage of the preseason, I'm pretty sure we'd have laughed at the notion. I know I certainly would have. Nevertheless, O'Neal has been nothing but consistent through this stage of the preseason and training camp. On Wednesday night, O'Neal had four blocks in 12 minutes before being lifted in favor of Greg Stiemsma and Chris Wilcox. O'Neal also had eight points, two blocks and three rebounds in the team's preseason opener against Toronto on Sunday. As Doc Rivers said, JO is the camp MVP.

Brandon Bass has also been extremely impressive in the three games that fans and the media have seen in the past week. Bass scored 13 points in the Celtics' open scrimmage and followed it up with a solid performance on Sunday (nine points, five rebounds, three steals, two blocks). On Wednesday, Bass finished with 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting. Bass brings a unique skill set to the Celtics -- he's a big man who has legitimate range. He's just as comfortable taking a mid-range jumper as he is taking the ball to the basket. That will come in handy for the Celtics this season off the bench.

Greg Stiemsma Proves Enough To Stick Around (For Now)

Greg Stiemsma has certainly been a pleasant surprise so far. The C's camp invitee (who played in the NBA D-League last season) scored the game-winning basket with 12 seconds left on Sunday and had seven points and a pair of blocks for the Celtics on Wednesday. Now, again, we've only seen a small sample size from Stiemsma, but it's been solid. Stiemsma certainly has done enough to keep himself around on the roster, at least for now. He likely won't be cut before the start of the season, but don't expect him to stick around all season unless he makes the best of the minutes he gets.

Bottom Line: Two games, two wins and plenty of bright spots. The Celtics have a good amount of talent on their team, but getting everyone to click and play at their fullest potential is the tricky part. If the C's can reach that potential, they could have something really good going for them. If they can't, then there isn't much hope of winning a title this season.

Next Up: This time, it's for real. With the preseason now in the rear-view mirror, the Celtics turn their attention to the season opener against the New York Knicks at noon EDT on Christmas Day in New York City (TV/Radio: TNT/WEEI).

For more Boston Celtics coverage, visit our team page and blog, CelticsBlog.

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Celtics Vs. Raptors Final Score: Boston Coasts Past Toronto, 81-73

BOSTON - Rajon Rondo's solid shooting helped the Boston Celtics take control of the game early, and the C's cruised to an 81-73 win over the Toronto Raptors in the preseason finale for both teams on Wednesday night at TD Garden.

"The starting lineup looked great today," said Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "Their speed, offensively they had it rolling. Defensively they were terrific. We turn the ball over too much, even with our starters. When you score 47 points and you shoot 53 percent but you have 10 turnovers and nine turnovers, you've taken away the chance to have a 60-point have because of your turnovers. That was the only thing we didn't like."

Rondo, who finished with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting, helped get the C's off to an 8-0 run at the start of the game. Boston never looked back, building a 33-20 lead by the six minute mark of the first quarter. Boston closed out the half on an 11-11 run to take a 47-31 lead into the break. Rondo scored 15 of his points in the first half and Greg Stiemsma scored seven.

"He played great. It was good to see," Rivers said about Stiemsma. "It was nice because we played him with some of the starters, which we were trying to do. He can block shots, he can run the floor, he can make the shot from the elbow. That was great when he just jacked it. That was what we wanted him to do. It was a good showing by him."

Toronto whittled down Boston's lead to three, 53-50, with 2:32 to go in the third quarter courtesy of a 19-6 run, but the C's were able to withstand the barrage and build a 67-53 lead by the end of the quarter. Despite being outscored 20-14 in the fourth quarter, Boston was able to regain control and coasted to the win.

Jermaine O'Neal recorded four blocks and had two rebounds in 12 minutes. Brandon Bass finished with 12 points and E'TWaun Moore added 11 points off the bench for Boston, which made 27-of-69 field goals in the win. The Celtics finished with 20 turnovers and 16 assists to go along with nine blocks.

"He was great," Rivers said about O'Neal. "I told Jermaine before the game that we were going to play Greg a lot, we were going to try to get [Chris] Wilcox in one little stretch in the second half. I told him he wasn't going to play a lot, but he's been great."

Boston opens the regular season on Christmas Day against the Knicks in New York City. Meanwhile, Toronto will start its 2011-12 campaign against the Cleveland Cavaliers on December 26.

For more Boston Celtics coverage, visit our team page and blog, CelticsBlog.

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Celtics Vs. Raptors Score Update: Boston Leads, 47-31, At Halftime

BOSTON - Rajon Rondo led all scorers with 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting as the Boston Celtics took a 47-31 lead over the Toronto Raptors into halftime in both team's preseason finale on Wednesday night at TD Garden.

Rondo's hot shooting paced a Celtics offensive attack that buried 19-of-36 field goals in the first period to shoot 52.8 percent. Toronto shot 29.3 percent on 12-for-41 shooting in the opening half.

Greg Stiemsma, who is playing for his shot at making the cut for the Celtics' roster, had an impressive first half, scoring seven points in 12 minutes. Jermaine O'Neal also had a productive half, registering two blocks and two rebounds.

DeMar Derozan scored 10 points and Andrea Bargnani added eight points and two rebounds for Toronto. Jose Calderon added five points off the bench and both Ed Davis and Amir Johnson scored two points apiece.

For more Boston Celtics coverage, visit our team page and blog, CelticsBlog.

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Celtics Vs. Raptors: TV/Radio Schedule, Time, History And More

Brandon Bass and the Boston Celtics host the Toronto Raptors in their preseason finale on Wednesday evening at TD Garden in Boston, MA. Boston beat Toronto, 76-75, on Sunday.

Event: Toronto Raptors (0-1) vs. Boston Celtics (1-0).

Date/Time: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 7:30 p.m. EDT.

Location: TD Garden (Capacity: 18,624), Boston, MA.

Broadcast Info: Wednesday night's preseason game between the Celtics and Raptors will be televised on Comcast SportsNet New England, with Mike Gorman, Tommy Heinsohn and Greg Dickerson serving as the broadcast team. The game will also be aired on the radio on the WEEI Sports Radio Network (93.7 FM/850 AM), with Sean Grande and Cedric maxwell calling all of the action.

Odds: There isn't a line on this game, but the Celtics are normally favored over Toronto.

Boston In 2010-11: Boston finished with a 56-26 record and were first in the Eastern Conference Atlantic Division, going 13-3 against divisional opponents. The Celtics breezed past the New York Knicks in a four-game sweep in the opening round of the playoffs, but the Miami Heat proved to be too much for the old and injured Celtics to handle.

Toronto In 2010-11: The Raptors were among the worst teams in the NBA last season, finishing with a 22-60 record and finished fifth (dead last) in the Atlantic Division, going 5-11 against teams in their own division.

Celtics Roster: Guards -Ray Allen, Rajon RondoAvery BradleyKeyon Dooling, Gilbert Brown (G-F), Marquis Daniels (G-F), E'Twaun Moore. Forwards - Brandon BassKevin GarnettJaJuan JohnsonPaul Pierce (F-G), Michael Sweetney, Sasha Pavlovic (F-G). Centers - Jermaine O'Neal (C-F), Jamal Sampson (C-F), Greg Stiemsma.

Raptors Roster: Guards - Leandro BarbosaJerryd BaylessJose CalderonAnthony CarterDeMar DeRozan (G-F). Forwards - Rasual ButlerEd DavisGary ForbesAmir JohnsonJames JohnsonLinas Kleiza (F-G). Centers - Solomon AlabiAndrea Bargnani(C-F), Aaron GrayJamaal Magloire.

Last Time Out: Greg Stiemsma hit the game-winning bucket with 12 seconds remaining to lead the Celtics to a 76-75 win over the Raptors on Sunday in the preseason opener for both teams. Ray Allen scored 12 points, Marquis Daniels added 11 points and Kevin Garnett finished with nine points and seven rebounds to pace Boston. Andrea Bargnani led all scorers with 16 points and nine rebounds and DeMar DeRozan added 14 points for Toronto.

Storyline: Once again, the score is meaningless Wednesday night when the C's and Raptors meet in the last preseason game. For Doc Rivers and the Celtics, this will be the final chance to see which back-end players can make the roster, with Greg Stiemsma, Gilbert Brown, Michael Sweetney and Jamal Sampson all likely on the chopping block. As of now, it would seem like Stiemsma and Brown are safe, but tonight's game could go a long ways towards deciding who stays and who goes. Expect to see some time for the starters - minus Paul Pierce - but not too many minutes.

Prediction: As far as a score is concerned (and again, it really doesn't matter), this game will likely be close -- seeing how Sunday's game was close, too. I'll give the Celtics a slight edge. Final Score: Celtics 81, Raptors 76.

For more Boston Celtics coverage, visit our team page and blog, CelticsBlog.

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Celtics Vs. Raptors: Boston Hosts Toronto In Preseason Finale

Brandon Bass and the Boston Celtics host Andrea Bargnani and the Toronto Raptors in the preseason finale for both teams at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Wednesday night at TD Garden in Boston, MA (TV/Radio: CSNNE/WEEI).

Boston (1-0) is coming off a 76-75 win over Toronto (0-1) on Sunday. Greg Stiemsma scored the game-winning basket with 12 seconds remaining in the game while Ray Allen (12 points) and Marquis Daniel (11 points) chipped in on offense.

Kevin Garnett (seven rebounds) and Bass (five rebounds, three steals, two blocks) both scored nine points, Jermaine O'Neal added eight points and Chris Wilcox finished with seven points and five rebounds in the win for Boston, which made 28-of-71 baskets (39.4 percent).

Bargnani led all scorers with 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds and DeMar DeRozan had 14 points for the Raptors, who shot 38.4 percent (28-for-73). Jerryd Bayless scored 10 points and Ed Davis finished with 10 points and 10 boards.

Paul Pierce will not play in the game and is expected to be out until the end of the week, according to Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. Pierce's status for the season opener against the New York Knicks is also in doubt.

Boston travels to New York for their regular season opener on Christmas Day while Toronto will open the lockout-shortened season against the Cleveland Cavaliers on December 26.

For more Boston Celtics coverage, visit our team page and blog, CelticsBlog.

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No Paul Pierce? Big, Big Problem For Doc Rivers, Boston Celtics

Paul Pierce has been the cornerstone of the Boston Celtics for the past decade, and they wouldn't be where they are now without him. Yet the recent heel injury to The Truth has his status for the Celtics' season opener in jeopardy.

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Celtics Vs. Raptors: Paul Pierce Out For Celtics Preseason Finale

Paul Pierce will not play in the Boston Celtics' preseason finale against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday evening at TD Garden, according to head coach Doc Rivers who told reporters on Tuesday that he was concerned about Pierce's health.

"I'm concerned, not long-term, but I'm concerned short-term," Rivers told reporters (via WEEI). "We have those two games right off the bat and he's gone one practice and that's basically it. So, yeah I'm concerned about it."

Pierce has been suffering from a bruised right heel that has kept him out of the majority of training camp practices, the team's open scrimmage and the preseason opener against the Raptors on Sunday. Pierce is entering his 14th season in the NBA, all with the Celtics, and has scored 21,410 points and collected 5,847 rebounds and 3,661 assists in 964 career games.

For more Boston Celtics coverage, visit our team page and blog, CelticsBlog.

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Celtics Overtime: C's Show Promise In Exhibition Win Over Raptors

Celtics Overtime is a postgame feature providing extra news, notes and analysis from each game. On Sunday, the Boston Celtics defeated the Toronto Raptors, 76-75, in an exhibition.

Wins and losses aren't important when it comes to preseason games, and that fact is well known. Even with that tidbit in mind, it's always encouraging when a team wins a game. The Celtics were able to do just that on Sunday afternoon in their preseason opener against the Raptors, winning 76-75 on a game-winning bucket from Greg Stiemsma with 12 ticks left.

Boston has now assured itself of at least a .500 record in the preseason (by virtue of there only being two preseason games). No, the preseason has no bearing on the regular season, but there was plenty to take away from the win.

Marquis Daniels Is Back And Better Than Ever

If you are a fan of Marquis Daniels, or quality basketball in general, then you liked what you saw from Daniels on Sunday. In 27 minutes, Daniels was the team's second-leading scorer with 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting and had three assists and two rebounds. In two unofficial games, Daniels has shown that he hasn't really been bothered by the spinal cord injury that sidelined him for the second half of last season. Daniels also did well in the C's open scrimmage on Friday night at TD Garden, scoring 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Daniels was starting in place of Paul Pierce, who is continuing to recover from a bruised right heel. Daniels is the No. 2 option after Pierce at the small forward position, especially with Jeff Green being sidelined for the entire season due to an aortic aneurysm. 

Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox Bring Big Things Off Bench

We've only seen very little of Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox wearing Celtic green, but what we've seen so far has been very encouraging. Bass has shown impressive range for a player his size and a nice scoring touch and general versatility. In the win over Toronto, Bass finished with nine points on 4-of-9 shooting with five rebounds. In the scrimmage, Bass had 13 points and five boards. As for Wilcox, he has shown a similar scoring touch, totaling seven points against the Raptors and a game-high 17 points in the scrimmage. Both will likely spend time at the 4 and 5, with the C's lacking a true backup at the center position, and are looking like they may be the additions of the year by Danny Ainge.

Kevin Garnett Is His Same Old Fiery Self

The day Kevin Garnett isn't pumped up about the sport of basketball is probably the day he'll retire. Night in and night out, KG is into the game -- even a preseason game like this one. Garnett, who finished with nine point and a seven rebounds, was really pumped up after Stiemsma's game-winning bucket, and it came in a game that didn't even count. So far, Garnett has looked like he's ready for another productive season leading the C's under the boards and in the intensity column.

Rajon Rondo, Guards Have Their Ups And Downs

Passing was definitely one of the best things to take away from this game. The Celtics had 18 assists and moved the ball extremely well in the early stages of the game. Rajon Rondo had eight assists in 27 minutes and made some of his usual passes that are only possible for him. There were certainly bright spots in the passing game, but there were plenty of blotches, too. The C's had 15 turnovers, with the guards accounting for nine of them. Rondo turned the ball over twice and Allen gave the ball up four times. Keyon Dooling, who only made 1-of-5 field goals in 18 minutes, coughed the ball up twice as well. Turnovers are to be expected in any team's first game back, but keep an eye out for sloppy ball handling. You'll certainly see a lot of it in the early stages of the season.

Bottom Line: Overall, the Celtics had plenty of bright spots in this win. Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett seem like they haven't missed a beat, Rajon Rondo continues to make prolific passes (which is all they really need him to do at the moment) and Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox and Marquis Daniels have all shown flashes of strong play that will hopefully carry over into the regular season. As far as first games are concerned, this was a solid start for Boston.

Next Up: The Celtics (1-0) return home to TD Garden for their preseason finale against the Toronto Raptors (0-1) at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Wednesday night. The game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet New England and aired on the WEEI Sports Radio Network.

For more Boston Celtics coverage, visit our team page and blog, CelticsBlog.

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Celtics Vs. Raptors Final Score: C's Take Care Of Raptors, 76-75

Ray Allen and Marquis Daniels put forth impressive efforts, scoring 12 and 11 points respectively as the Boston Celtics defeated the Toronto Raptors, 76-75, in the preseason opener for both teams on Sunday afternoon in Toronto, Ontario.

"He's just aggressive," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said about Daniels, who also had three assists and two rebounds in 27minutes. "Not hesitant, going to the basket. He's not worrying about anything anymore. He's playing free basketball."

Boston (1-0) made 28-of-71 field goals and 17-of-23 free throws while holding Toronto (0-1) to 28-of-73 shooting from the floor and 7-of-19 shooting from long range. Toronto controlled the boards, holding a 39-35 advantage in rebounding, and also held a 19-18 advantage in assists over Boston.

Kevin Garnett finished with nine points and seven rebounds, Brandon Bass scored nine points and had five rebounds and Jermaine O'Neal totaled eight points and three rebounds while Chris Wilcox added seven points and five boards.

"[We want to] get more comfortable with the defensive principles and offensive schemes and also get into better shape," Bass said in a postgame interview on Comcast SportsNet New England.

Andrea Bargnani led all scorers with 16 points and had nine rebounds and both Jerryd Bayless and Ed Davis scored 10 points off the bench for the Raptors. In addition, Jose Calderon scored seven points and had six assists.

After falling behind 7-3 nearly four minutes in, the Celtics picked up the pace and grabbed a 16-10 lead following a Chris Wilcox tip in with 3:23 remaining in the first and led 18-17 after the opening quarter. A slow start in the second quarter gave way to a 17-5 run for the C's, giving them a 35-24 lead with 3:36 remaining in the first half. 

Toronto wasn't able to make up any ground in the third quarter, trailing 61-51 heading into the final 12 minutes. However, the Raptors used a 12-1 run to take a 71-70 lead with 2:09 to play. Boston finished the game with a 6-4 run, capped off by a Greg Stiemsma with the game-winning tip in with 12 seconds remaining. Bargnani missed the potential game-winning jmper three feet from the hoop, giving Boston its first win of the preseason.

Boston returns home to host Toronto in the second and final preseason game Wednesday.

For more Boston Celtics coverage, visit our team page and blog, CelticsBlog.

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Celtics Vs. Raptors Score Update: C's Lead Raptors, 40-33, At Half

Ray Allen has ten points and Marquis Daniels scored seven points as the Boston Celtics took a 40-33 lead over the Toronto Raptors at halftime of the preseason opener for both teams at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

Boston fell behind 0-4 after two minutes, but picked up the pace and eventually built up a 30-23 lead with 4:30 to go in the second quarter. The Celtics made 14-of-30 shots from the field in the first half while holding Toronto to 13-of-38 shooting.

Jermaine O'Neal had six points and one rebounds and Chris Wilcox finished the half with five points and three rebounds. Kevin Garnett totaled two points, six rebounds and had three assists while Rajon Rondo had two points and six assists.

DeMar Derozan scored 10 points and Andrea Bargnani chipped in with six points and three rebounds. Leandro Barbosa scored five points and Ed Davis added four points three boards off the bench for Toronto in the opening half.

For more Boston Celtics coverage, visit our team page and blog, CelticsBlog.

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Celtics Vs. Raptors: TV/Radio Schedule, Time, Location And More

Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics tip off their 2011-12 NBA Preseason schedule against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday afternoon at the Air Canada Center in Toronto, Ontario.

Event: Boston Celtics (0-0) vs. Toronto Raptors (0-0) - NBA Preseason 2011.

Date/Time: Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 1:00 p.m. EDT.

Location: Air Canada Centre (Capacity: 19,800), Toronto, Ontario.

Broadcast Info: Sunday's game between the Celtics and Raptors can be seen on Comcast SportsNet New England, with Mike Gorman providing play-by-play, Tommy Heinsohn providing color commentary and Greg Dickerson reporting from the sidelines. The game can also be heard on the radio on the WEEI Sports Radio Network (93.7 FM/850 AM), with Sean Grande on play-by-play duty and Cedric Maxwell providing analysis.

Odds: There isn't a line on this game, but the Celtics are favored by virtue of their dominance of the Raptors over recent years. In general, the Raptors won't be favored over the Celtics - plain and simple.

Boston In 2010-11: Boston finished with a 56-26 record and were first in the Eastern Conference Atlantic Division, going 13-3 against divisional opponents. The Celtics breezed past the New York Knicks in a four-game sweep in the opening round of the playoffs, but the Miami Heat proved to be too much for the old and injured Celtics to handle.

Toronto In 2010-11: The Raptors were among the worst teams in the NBA last season, finishing with a 22-60 record and finished fifth (dead last) in the Atlantic Division, going 5-11 against teams in their own division.

Celtics Roster: Guards -Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Keyon Dooling, Gilbert Brown (G-F), Marquis Daniels (G-F), E'Twaun Moore. Forwards - Brandon Bass, Kevin Garnett, JaJuan Johnson, Paul Pierce (F-G), Michael Sweetney, Sasha Pavlovic (F-G). Centers - Jermaine O'Neal (C-F), Jamal Sampson (C-F), Greg Stiemsma.

Raptors Roster: Guards - Leandro Barbosa, Jerryd Bayless, Jose Calderon, Anthony Carter, DeMar DeRozan (G-F). Forwards - Rasual Butler, Ed Davis, Gary Forbes, Amir Johnson, James Johnson, Linas Kleiza (F-G). Centers - Solomon Alabi, Andrea Bargnani (C-F), Aaron Gray, Jamaal Magloire.

Celtics Injury Report: The C's have five players who have been injured during training camp, with Jeff Green, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Sasha Pavlovic all suffering from injuries. Green will miss the entire season after doctors found an aortic aneurysm that will require heart surgery to fix. Pierce is recovering from a bruised right heel and won't play on Sunday. Garnett (thumb) and Pavlovic (wrist) haven't been ruled out against Toronto.

Storyline: Finally, basketball is back. No, it isn't regular season basketball, but after that pesky NBA Lockout, fans are ready for anything. The Celtics don't have a lot of time to get ready for the regular season (which opens for them on Christmas Day against the New York Knicks) -- but really, who does? -- so Doc Rivers will likely give plenty of minutes to his bench as he continues to sift through the roles on this team. The score doesn't matter -- at all. Rivers even said that he and the Celtics wouldn't even do any prep work for this game and wouldn't even focus on them during the game. It's all about figuring out the rotations at this point, as it should be.

Prediction: With this being a meaningless preseason game, the score really doesn't matter. But why not predict a score anyways? It seems like lesser teams find ways to win in the preseason, so I'll give the edge to Toronto. Final Score: Raptors 89, Celtics 84.

For more Boston Celtics coverage, visit our team page and blog, CelticsBlog.

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Celtics Vs. Raptors: Boston Takes On Toronto In Preseason Opener

Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics will unofficially kick off the 2011-12 season as they face the Toronto Raptors in the preseason opener for both teams at 1 p.m. EDT on Sunday afternoon in Toronto, Ontario (TV/Radio: CSNNE/WEEI).

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