The Boston Celtics have won four straight and six of their last seven, and now have their sights set on moving further up the Eastern Conference standings. The streaking Celtics can take a big step in that pursuit when they visit the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.
The Raptors have dropped five of seven to see their lead over the Celtics for the second spot in the conference reduced to one game as the two squads approach the halfway point to the season. Boston does have one physical issue to address, as guard Avery Bradley missed Saturday's 117-108 win over New Orleans due to a strained Achilles and he is questionable for this one. The bulk of Toronto's recent slide has occurred on the road but it continued in the opener of a four-game homestand Sunday, when Houston knocked off the Raptors 129-122. Toronto has allowed at least 110 points five times during its 2-5 swoon.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (23-14): Marcus Smart got the start in Bradley's place in the win over the Pelicans and scored a season-high 22 points while making 5-of-7 3-pointers. Smart is shooting 36.2 percent from long range in his 11 starts - including 3-of-7 against Toronto on Dec. 9 - and 28.7 percent in 23 games off the bench.
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (24-12): Celtics All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas might be licking his chops while thinking about matching up with Toronto, which has allowed opponents' stars to dominate of late. Chicago's Jimmy Butler went off for 42 points in an overtime win against the Raptors on Saturday and Houston's James Harden posted another triple-double with 40 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in Sunday's triumph at Air Canada Centre.
1. Thomas scored 38 points versus New Orleans and is averaging 31.4 since returning from a groin injury in mid-December.
2. Raptors SG DeMar DeRozan has posted consecutive 36-point efforts while making 26-of-27 free throws.
3. Boston has made 17.8 3-pointers over its last four games while shooting 51.5 percent from the arc.