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Pregame: Raptors at Celtics

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff  January 2, 2010 05:23 PM

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Welcome to the Garden 


Happy New Year, folks. A lot going on around the league. Glibert and guns. Nate drops 41. Kobe at the at buzzer. 

Then there's the Celtics, who are starting the year with a handful of injuries -- Kevin Garnett (knee), Paul Pierce (knee), Rajon Rondo (hamstring), Glen Davis (ankle), Marquis Daniels (thumb). 

Lots of doctors appointments. 

Still, they've got a matchup with the Raptors that tips off in a couple hours. The word is that Tony Allen and J.R. Giddens practice with the first unit yesterday and could start tonight, but nothing's confirmed. 

And as if the string of injuries that's wiped out 60 percent of the Celtics starting lineup weren't enough, the Celtics couldn't have picked a worse time to run into the Raptors. They've won five straight, (albeit against New Jersey, New Orleans, Detroit (twice) and Charlotte). 

That's a huge turnaround from where they were early on, when they played 30 games in 53 days trying with skids where they lost five straight and 11 of 15. 

"Our schedule got a little bit better, not because of the teams but because we had days between games, before that we were playing every other day," said Andrea Bargnani. "We had the worst schedule in the NBA basically. So now we’ve got more times to prepare for games and that helps a lot."

They feel like a different team that the one that Boston beat 116-103 in November. 

"I think we’ve been a little bit more aggressive than we were earlier," said Raptors head coach Jay Triano. "I think we’re playing together a lot better. I think it’s just the nature of our guys getting to know each other. We’ve had a lot more time to practice and a lot more time to rest." 

As far as the injuries, Triano and Bargnani both said they'd wait until they announced the starters before they believed anything. 

"We’re going to have to match up with whoever they’ll put out there," Triano said. "They do have five guys for sure and we just have to make sure that we’re ready to play. If at the last minute two of those guys can play, we’re prepared. And if they can’t, we’re prepared." 

Bargnani added, "Are you sure that they’re not going to play? You’re never sure until they show the list so you’re never sure who’s going to play and who’s not. If they don’t play, it’s a big advantage because they’re three excellent players."
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