Raptors’ Bargnani returns to lineup vs. Celtics

The No. 1 priority for the Raptors will be what to do with Andrea Bargnani. (Canadian Press)
February 6, 2013, 11:22 AM

After missing 26 games due to elbow issues, Andrea Bargnani is in the lineup when the Raptors face the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.

Bargnani will come off the bench, something he has not done since Dec. 29 2008.

The Raptors, who are 1-1 since the acquisition of Rudy Gay, will be facing a Celtics team who are unbeaten since losingstarting point guard Rajon Rondo to injury.

Programming note: Watch the Raptors battle the Celtics live on Sportsnet beginning at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT.

Here are a few thoughts to consider ahead of tonight’s game:

Bargnani’s back

Wednesday morning, Raptors coach Dwane Casey said that Bargnani will be a game-time decison when the Raptors host the Celtics but it sounded like he was ready to go on Tuesday.

Bargnani practiced with the team on Monday and appeared very close to returning.

“He played well today,” Casey told sportsnet.ca’s Holly Mackenzie after Tuesday’s practice. “He really went well today. Now we’re going to wait until tomorrow to see how he responds to his physical. Today was probably the hardest practice he’s had since he’s been back, because we’ve had so many day-in-between-(games) practices where there is not a lot of banging, hitting and body on body. Today was kind of the first day we had that. He went through that well, made it through it. He got some tough rebounds, which was good to see. We’ll wait and see how his body responds tomorrow.”

Bargnani’s role on offence could actually prove to be pretty valuable with the acquisition of Gay.

Between Gay, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, the Raptors have three players who prefer to put the ball on the floor and go to the hole. Bargnani should get some open looks on the perimeter as a result and if he can hit a few shots he could pull the opposing four out of the key and create more space for others.
The key is whether he can find the touch from long range as he was struggling before the injury.

One in, one out

While Bargnani returns for the Raptors, there seems to be a pretty strong possibility that Landry Fields won’t be playing.

The Raptors swingman has been felled by back spasms and was unable to practice on Tuesday.

Casey said Fields is doing some rehab of the back.

The Raptors’ depth on the wing has been slimmed down recently by injuries to Mikael Pietrus and Linas Kleiza but Terrence Ross, Alan Anderson, DeRozan, Quincy Acy and Gay should be able to fill the void.

With all of the bodies on the wing, the Raptors still need to make a deal to address the lack of depth at the point guard position but the injuries may make that difficult.

The Celtics’ quandary

With Rondo (knee) and Jared Sullinger (back) both out for the season due to injury, the Celtics need to decide whether to reshape the roster or attempt to make a playoff run.

The Celtics’ winning streak has clouded the issue but the Celtics have reportedly held talks with teams over the availability of Kevin Garnett.

The problem, however, is that the Celtics gave him a no-trade clause when he penned a new deal last summer and Garnett has reportedly let it be known that he would be unwilling to accept a trade to at least one team that would be interested in acquiring him, the Denver Nuggets.


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