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Monday, 16 October 2017 17:56

Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics: CLNS Celtics Newsfeed's 2017-18 NBA Season Preview

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Boston Celtics Newsfeed 2017-18 NBA Season Preview: Boston Celtics vs. Atlanta Hawks | Powered by CLNS Media

 Last year the Toronto Raptors finished with a 51-31 record, which was good for a third-place finish in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors took three out four from the Celtics last season, with an impressive 101-94 road win in December that helped the team jump out to a sizzling 18-7 start. After a very busy season last year in which Toronto acquired Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, Canada's lone NBA squad had a relatively quiet offseason. Perhaps the biggest moves were internally: they resigned Kyle Lowry, who was injured in the latter part of last year's season and Serge Ibaka to three-year deals. The biggest addition was adding Indiana Pacers swingman C.J. Miles via free agency, however they had to part ways with Cory Joseph (now in Indiana). They also said goodbye to Tucker (now in Houston) as well as Patrick Patterson (now in Oklahoma City) and DeMarre Carroll (now in Brooklyn).One of the biggest questions for the Raptors is how they can fit into a league that is emphasizing pace and space. Toronto tends to play a more slow-tempo game than many top-flight teams in the league and they are not particularly inclined to shoot the three-ball. The team relies on scoring points in the paint and getting to the free-throw line, something they did at an impressive rate of 24.7 attempts per game last season.  Guard DeMar DeRozan is a bona fide star who is in the prime of his sparkling career. He's 28 years old and coming off a career year in which he averaged 27.3 points per game. Despite the gaudy scoring numbers, the former Olympian and UCLA stud needs to improve from beyond the arc, as he only converted on 26 percent of attempts last year. Another fascinating player to watch is center Jonas Valanciunas, who is only 25 and coming off his best rebounding season. That being said, the bench is incredibly thin as it is led by the popular Norman Powell, a 6'4" guard who is young, athletic, and able to rebound well for a guard. Toronto is a good team, perhaps even a very good team. They have the starpower in the backcourt between Lowry and DeRozan to beat anyone, well almost anyone, on any given night. But they are not in the same class as Boston and Cleveland. Not even close. Toronto got swept last year by Cleveland in the playoffs and it's hard seeing them winning a game againset either Cleveland or Boston come spring time. But with one of the more experienced coaches in Dwane Casey, Toronto should finish with an above .500 record and return to the playoffs.   Prediction: 48-34, 3rd place in Eastern Conference