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Preview: Celtics-Raptors

The Celtics [1] are like the kid that doesn’t do their homework, and then is surprised when they fail the test. But failing the test does little to chasten them because — they seem to have reasoned collectively — if they had studied they would have done just fine.

Kendrick Perkins [2] told reporters [3] after Tuesday’s loss to the Knicks [4] that they were making up defenses on the fly. Doc Rivers [5] continues to insist that he’s not holding open tryouts for bench spots even though the rotation seems to change on a nightly basis. Kevin Garnett [6] said the gods were punishing [7] them.

Whatever. The Celtics [8], frankly, are a mess and what’s most disturbing about it is that they can’t seem to get it right even when they want to. They play the Raptors [9] tonight, a team that is without Chris Bosh [10] who broke his face Tuesday against the Cavs [11], and who have their own internal problems.

If you were a betting person you would take this game off your board because with these two teams, who knows which one will show up to play.

CELTICS (48-29, 5-5 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.1

Points Allowed: 95.2

Differential: +3.9 (9th)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.4 (15th)

Defensive Efficiency: 103.1 (4th)

Pace: 91.8 (20th)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo [12], Ray Allen [13], Paul Pierce, [14] Kevin Garnett [6], Kendrick Perkins [2]

Injuries: None.

RAPTORS (38-39, 5-5 last 10)

Points Per Game: 103.9

Points Allowed: 105.8

Differential: -1.9 (18th)

Offensive Efficiency: 110.9 (7th)

Defensive Efficiency: 112.9 (30th)

Pace: 93.2 (11th)

Likely Starters: Jose Calderon [15], Sonny Weems [16], Hedo Turkoglu [17], Amir Johnson [18], Andrea Bargnan [19]i

Injuries: Chris Bosh (Face fracture), Antoine Wright [20] (Ankle)

Key Matchup: Paul Pierce [21] vs. Hedo Turkoglu [22]

If nothing else, this game allows Pierce and his Turkish Doppelganger to beat each other up with elbows and pump fakes. For some reason they seem to really like playing each other, probably because they play the same way. Turkoglu was recently benched after skipping a game because of a stomach flu and then getting spotted at a club, which basically sums up his disappointing season. He can still play when the spirit moves him and without Bosh he is the Raptors’ best all-around player.

The Celtics in a Paragraph: Nothing really matters in the Celtics universe right now. The third seed? They could care less. The rotation? In a state of total flux. The regular season can’t end soon enough, and if they don’t get their act together soon (if they in fact are capable of getting their act together) the playoffs won’t last long either.

The Raptors in a Paragraph: If you’re Chris Bosh, has this team given you any reason to re-sign this summer? Their expensive free agent addition has been a bust. They don’t play defense and they may very well fall out of the playoffs. Bosh will be heavily courted this summer. He is the second-biggest free agent catch, after you know who, because he seems the most likely to leave and 6-10 forwards in their prime who can play like he can don’t come around very often.

What to Watch For: The Raptors are desperate and short-handed. The Celtics are just desperate. Which ever team plays the hardest will probably win.