at Air Canada Centre, 1 p.m. | CSN, WEEI (850 AM)
GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)
With their last opponent missing the NBA's reigning scoring champion, the Boston Celtics admitted they weren't completely focused from the outset of a surprising loss.
They might have a similarly difficult time taking the Toronto Raptors seriously.
The Celtics' eight-game winning streak over the Raptors is currently their longest against any opponent, but they may not have Rajon Rondo on Sunday afternoon at Air Canada Centre against a Toronto team undergoing an in-season makeover.
Boston (9-3) seemed to be in excellent shape to pick up a fourth straight win Friday night, when Oklahoma City came to TD Garden without both NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant and fellow starter Jeff Green.
Two days after a 29-point win over a Washington team missing No. 1 pick John Wall, the Celtics seemed stagnant from the opening tip. The Thunder's Russell Westbrook had 31 points, outplaying Rondo in an 89-84 win that snapped Boston's 5-0 start at home.
"We didn't start the game with the right mindset," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce, who had 14 points and four turnovers. "We knew what they were going through. We kind of eased into the game."
To make matters worse, Rondo left in the fourth quarter with a strained left hamstring, while Kevin Garnett took an elbow to the head that sidelined him for most of the opening period.
Garnett seemed fine, but Rondo is considered a game-time decision Sunday.
His absence would give Toronto (4-9) a better shot to extend its first winning streak of the season. The Raptors have won two straight -- matching their victory total through their first 11 games -- thanks to big fourth quarters.
Toronto's rotation is about to get a shakeup, however. The Raptors agreed Saturday to trade starting point guard Jarrett Jack and backups Marcus Banks and David Andersen to New Orleans for former All-Star Peja Stojakovic and Jerryd Bayless.
Read the full preview HERE.
FORSBERG'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH
Resting Rondo? Regardless of the severity of Rondo's hamstring injury (and from the way he was walking after Friday's game, we'd guess it's minor), the Celtics might want to take advantage of a likely shorthanded opponent (Toronto's trade with New Orleans was completed last night) and attempt to get by without their star point guard. Coach Doc Rivers has exercised extreme caution with injuries all year and Sunday's matinee should be no different.
Better energy: After sleepwalking Friday night against an injury-depleted Oklahoma City squad, the Celtics need to come out of the gates with better energy Sunday and take care of an opponent it should beat. Boston started Friday's game off on the wrong foot and seemingly didn't wake up for three quarters. A strong start Sunday could go a long way towards rebuilding the good feelings that engulfed a 9-2 start to the season.
Lean on the D: Toronto is 29th in the league in 3-point shooting and is 20th in the league in shooting overall. If the Celtics play their typical brand of defense, it's going to be tough for the Raptors to hang around. Remember, Oklahoma City ranked last in the league in 3-point shooting entering Friday's game, then connected on six of its first seven attempts to help it emerge with a win.