Quick turnarounds have been the theme of the lockout-shortened season, must to the chagrin of the Boston Celtics. It's no secret that the Celtics have historically struggled in the second game of back-to-backs, a task they will be faced with on Friday night north of the border against the Toronto Raptors (7:00 p.m. EDT; TV/Radio: CSNNE/WEEI).
Thankfully, the Celtics aren't facing a tough opponent. Toronto is among the league's basement dwellers, having won only 42 percent of it's games at 9-18. The month of February hasn't been particularly kind to the Raptors, who have only emerged with one victory in five games since the calendar turned over.
Ironically, the month began with a 100-64 blowout loss at the hand of the C's. Paul Pierce had a game-best 17 points and had eight assists and six rebounds to lead a consistent Celtics offense which shot 52 percent from the field. Ray Allen and Brandon Bass each scored 12 points and Avery Bradley and JaJuan Johnson contributed with 11 points apiece. Jerryd Bayless scored 14 and Ed Davis finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds, providing the only sparks for Toronto.
Boston, meanwhile, had been on a roll heading into Thursday's game against the rival Los Angeles Lakers, winning nine of their last 10 games and five in a row. Kobe Bryant and the Lakers put an end to that streak, however, capturing a thrilling 88-87 overtime victory in a classic battle. Ray Allen scored 22 and Pierce added 18 points.
Toronto was dropped by the Milwaukee Bucks, 105-99, in its last contest Wednesday. DeMar DeRozan shot 50 percent (9-for-18) and led all scorers with 25 points while James Johnson chipped in with 15 points and seven rebounds to lead the Raptors in defeat. Linas Kleiza had 12 points and eight boards and Leandro Barbosa totaled 11 points off the bench.