Preview capsule for the Boston-Toronto Eastern Conference semifinal series that starts Sunday:
No. 2 TORONTO RAPTORS (53-19, 4-0) vs. No. 3 BOSTON CELTICS (48-24, 4-0)
Season series: Celtics, 3-1
Story line: Of the teams that made the playoffs, the Raptors (11-1) and the Celtics (9-3) have been the best teams in the NBA bubble in terms of won-lost records. And going back to Jan. 1, the Raptors — at 34-8 — have far and away the best record in the league. But the Celtics were one of only four clubs to beat the Raptors more than once this season, joining the Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee and Miami.
Key matchup: Raptors F Pascal Siakam vs. Celtics F Jayson Tatum. They are two of the league’s best young talents, both first-time All-Stars this season and both well on their way to being considered among the NBA elite — if they’re not there already. Tatum averaged 27.0 points and 9.8 rebounds in Boston’s first-round sweep of Philadelphia; Siakam averaged 20.8 points and 7.8 rebounds in Toronto’s first-round sweep of Brooklyn.
Injury watch: The point guard position could be a concern for both sides. Boston’s Kemba Walker has been dealing with a sore knee in the bubble; Toronto’s Kyle Lowry sprained an ankle in the Raptors’ first-round clinching win over the Nets. And the Celtics will be without Gordon Hayward (ankle) indefinitely, probably the entire series.
Numbers of note: Boston is the only team to beat Toronto in the NBA’s restart bubble. … Toronto is outscoring opponents by an average score of 116-106 in the bubble; Boston is outscoring opponents 117-108. … The Raptors’ bench scored an NBA-record 100 points in the Game 4 win over Brooklyn. The previous mark for bench scoring in a game, which started being tracked in 1970, was 94. … This will be the first postseason matchup between the franchises.
Prediction: Raptors in 6.
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