Tuesday night’s NBA slate features a potential Eastern Conference finals preview, as the Toronto Raptors (36-16) play host against the Boston Celtics (39-15).
Tip is scheduled for about 7:40 p.m. ET and will be broadcast locally on NBC Sports Boston (Celtics market) and TS1/4 (Raptors market). Depending on your location, your options for watching a live stream of the game will be different.
If You’re in the Celtics Market:
FuboTV: NBC Sports Boston is included in the “Fubo Premier” channel package in Boston and surrounding areas. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial, and you can then watch on your computer via the FuboTV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the FuboTV app
If You’re in the Raptors Market:
TSN.ca: You can watch a live stream of TSN1 or TSN4 via TSN.ca. You’ll need to verify your cable provider by signing in with a username and password in order to watch the stream.
If You’re Outside the Celtics & Raptors Markets:
NBA League Pass: Allows you to watch all non-nationally televised, out-of-market games. If you want to watch all teams, it costs $28.99 per month or $99.99 for the rest of the season. Or, if you just want to watch one team, it costs $17.99 per month or $59.99 for the rest of the season.
It would never be wise to write off a team that has LeBron James on it, but with the Cavaliers struggling to find any sort of rhythm–they’re 6-11 in their last 17–and Kevin Love’s injury only adding to their woes, it appears that the the road to the Finals in the East is going to run through Boston and Toronto.
They’re certainly running away with the top two seeds. Boston, despite some injury woes, has run off four straight wins to remain atop the conference at 39-15, while the Raptors have won seven of their last 10 and are just two games back. The Cavs and Wizards, meanwhile, are each 5.5 back of Toronto, so this looks like it could be a two-team race for the top seed.
As such, Tuesday night’s matchup could go a long way in determining who ultimately escapes with home-court advantage throughout the East playoffs. The Celtics won the first matchup, a 95-94 thriller at The Garden in November, and they have two more head-to-head matchups in the final 12 days of the regular season.
“[The Raptors] are playing extremely well,” Celtics center Al Horford said. “We’ll have our hands full, and for us, it’s gonna be one of those games where we have to be very disciplined defensively, because [DeMar] DeRozan makes you pay. Kyle Lowry has that ability as well.”
DeRozan and Lowry are averaging a combined 40.9 points per game, but a big reason for the Raptors’ improvement this season (they’re on pace to win 57 games, which would be six more than a year ago) has been the play of the bench. While the Raptors’ starters (Lowry, DeRozan, OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas) have a healthy net rating of plus-12.2 (translated: they out-score opponents by 12.2 points per 100 possessions), the main bench unit (Fred VanVleet, CJ Miles, Delon Wright, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl) is at a whopping plus-16.0, which ranks eighth in the NBA among all 5-man units that have played at least 100 minutes together.
Depth is important when playing the Raptors, which means the Celtics are getting healthy just in time. While Marcus Smart is still out after losing his fight with a picture frame, Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris are expected back after missing the last three and two games, respectively.
Not only is Morris a key part of the Celtics’ bench (he’s averaging 12.0 points and 5.4 rebounds as a reserve), but Irving’s return shifts Terry Rozier–who was a revelation during Irving’s absence–back to the second-unit, setting up a really compelling bench battle.
Ultimately, the East won’t be won on Tuesday night. But it could very easily foreshadow what’s to come in May.
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