Celtics will face new look Raptors

MIKE GANTER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:02 PM ET

Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers is referring to his club's recent malaise as a bit of a withdrawal on the savings it accumulated when it was winning 19 games in a row earlier this season.

The Raptors wouldn't mind at all if the Celts' bank balance kept taking a hit for at least the next two nights.

Boston has lost seven of their past nine and head into Toronto today looking to get things righted. The two teams finish up the home and home series in Boston tomorrow.

But this Raptors club will have a distinctively different approach than the one that blew a 15-point lead early in the third quarter at Boston in November and went on to lose by seven.

For one Jay Triano's defensive scheme does not change from opponent to opponent. They pack the paint and force teams to beat them with jump shots.

"I think it's definitely going to help us out," Chris Bosh said yesterday following practice. "We don't have to go through how we're going to guard different things. We know our plays. We know the principals and so there's really no thinking. It's now just instinct."

And Bosh, who was used as a decoy in that game and limited to just nine points and just eight field goal attempts as he kept Kevin Garnett away from the basket, will be much more involved offensively.

"I've only looked at the one game we played against them (earlier this year) but I think we put Chris in tough spots," Triano said. "We had him stand and ask for the basketball and we're not going to do that again." Bosh said he personally won't be thinking about the seven games the Celtics have lost in the past nine.

"They're struggling a little bit right now and we're playing well," Bosh said. "But you're going to get what you're going to get. We're going to play them like they've won 19 in a row. They're still the defending champs. You don't look at the last week. You look at the overall record (29-9)."

Triano wisely backed away from over-analyzing the Celtics' recent troubles.

"I just think it's hard to maintain the intensity which they had at the beginning of the year for 82 games," he said, adding he feels the difference this afternoon is which team comes out with more energy and pays attention to the small details.

"People talk about baseball being a game of inches and basketball is the same thing," he said. "If you are up two more feet on screen and rolls it shuts the door. If you are off two feet it allows splits and then they're in the seams. It may not sound like a big deal where you set the screen or where you catch the ball offensively but two feet can make the difference between making a good pass and someone having a little more time to fight over it. If we do the small things we can be a pretty good team."

And slumping or not, the Celtics will require that kind of attention to detail or the Raptors won't just be dipping into savings, their account will be overdrawn.


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