The Toronto Raptors recorded a victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday but they may be hard-pressed to stretch the streak to two games in Boston Wednesday night.
The Celtics have won 10 straight over the Raptors and will likely receive an extra boost as Paul Pierce is expected to return to active duty against Toronto.
The Raptors do have an ace in the hole as they can get some inside information from veteran shooting guard Mickael Pietrus, who was a member of the Celtics last season.
Here are a few thoughts to consider ahead of tonight’s game:
Gay: In or out?
The Raptors victory over the Cavaliers came despite the absence of Rudy Gay, who missed a game for the second time this season because of back issues.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey told reporters after practice Tuesday that a decision on Gay’s availability will be made after Wednesday’s shootaround although he wouldn’t be pushed to play through pain.
“Even if we were in a playoff race, if they were not healthy, you could not rush a guy back and risk further injuries to them,” Casey told the Toronto Star’s Doug Smith. “That’s the way we look at that.
“Rudy feels like he wants to come in and make a difference … but right when we could smell playoffs was when his back started flaring up on him…Now somebody else has to step up.”
Bargnani season over
No one seems to be having a tougher season than Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani.
The Raptors announced on Tuesday that he has played his last game of the season due to an avulsion sprain of the right elbow.
Given the Raptors interest in moving Bargnani, he may have played his last game in a Raptors uniform as he will likely be dealt or amnestied this summer.
The Fields factor
While there are plenty of people clamouring for rookies Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross to get more action for the remainder of the season, it might be just as important for Casey to find time to play Landry Fields.
Casey told reporters Tuesday that Fields is going to need to adjust his shooting stroke over the summer in similar fashion to former Raptor Ed Davis.
“This summer is going to be big for him the way Ed Davis changed his shot (last off season),” Casey told the Toronto Sun’s Mike Ganter. “He has to get a comfortable rhythm because I go back to a guy who shot 30-whatever per cent from three and even higher in New York in the fourth quarter. Somewhere in there is a three-point shooter and whether it is technique or form or whatever, he has to find it and I think that is more of summer time thing.”
While that may mean sitting a Casey favourite (Alan Anderson), Fields will be back next season and needs to get his groove back after the early-season elbow injury which he has never seemed to bounce back from.
For his part, Fields continues to sound lost on his game, similar to a pitcher who has lost the ability to throw a curveball effectively.
“Really just kind of get back to a place where I understand my own game because I kind of got lost there trying to figure out what I do best now and how can I be efficient out there despite the injuries and stuff that have been going on,” Fields said. “I think at this point it’s really starting to come back. I think defence has been really important for me. It’s what has allowed me to stay on the floor at times. With that and the forward progress with my hand and elbow I think that’s the kind of player I want to be.”