The Toronto Raptors will put two streaks on the line when they host the Boston Celtics on Wednesday afternoon.
The NBA champions have won eight consecutive home games against the Celtics dating to the 2015-16 season and have a 34-game home winning streak against Atlantic Division teams. It is an NBA record for a team within its division.
The Celtics will have Enes Kanter available to play in the first Christmas Day home game for the Raptors. Boston also could have Gordon Hayward back in the lineup. He has missed three games with a sore foot.
Kanter is a critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government for its treatment of Turkish people. The Celtics center has not traveled outside the United States after the Turkish government revoked his passport in 2017 and issued an Interpol Red Notice for his arrest.
He learned Monday that an arrangement had been made between Canadian and U.S. officials so that he could travel to Toronto.
“We’re accomplishing something,” Kanter said, according to boston.com. “Now, foreign governments are involved. I think it’s a huge thing.”
The Celtics have won three in a row, including a 119-93 victory Sunday over the Charlotte Hornets in which Jayson Tatum scored a career-best 39 points, 22 in the fourth quarter.
“It’s a lot of fun, just how much talent we have,” Tatum said. “Any given night, anybody can go off. I think that presents a matchup problem for the other team.”
Said Celtics guard Kemba Walker: “It’s everything. I just had two points the other night and we won. What can I complain about?”
Kanter had eight points and 13 rebounds coming off the bench Sunday.
The Raptors continue to impress even with Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and Norman Powell out with injuries.
They overcame a 30-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday. It was the biggest comeback win in Raptors franchise history.
They were down by 15 points to the host Indiana Pacers on Monday and forced overtime before losing 120-115. That loss ended Toronto’s five-game winning streak.
Kyle Lowry, who scored 32 points Sunday, had 30 points on Monday.
Lowry felt that the Raptors could have used a “better start and rebounding” against the Pacers.
“But, I mean, listen, we gutted it out, we played our butts off, gave ourselves a chance to win at the end, but unfortunately we came up short,” he said.
With the injuries, the Raptors bench has responded with players like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris Boucher and Terence Davis stepping up.
“They’ve been great,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “I mean, none of them were in the rotation to start the year and none of them are getting a single minute, and we’ve had to rely on them because of two huge waves of injuries. And then now, this wave of three (again) they’ve had to reappear again.”
Hollis-Jefferson had eight points and nine rebounds Monday despite taking some hard falls and an inadvertent kick to the mouth from teammate Serge Ibaka. He said he would “probably feel it tomorrow,” but said he would be ready for the game Wednesday.
The Celtics have won the only meeting between the teams this season, 112-106 at Boston on Oct. 25. After Wednesday’s game, the teams play again Saturday in Boston.
–Field Level Media