Jonathan Von Tobel joins Follow The Money to break down some key matchups in Thursday’s NBA map, including the Raptors on a back-to-back, versus a battered Celtics team >

Just one win before crawling back 500 for the first time since the start of the season, the Toronto Raptors’ road back to seriousness has been filled with many ups and downs, but the goal is right there after a disastrous 2-8 start to the campaign

Toronto will have the opportunity to make it back to 500 when it comes to the Boston Celtics Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET / 4:30 p.m. PT on Sportsnet Ontario, Sportsnet East, and Sportsnet ONE

Unfortunately for the Raptors, they’re going to be tough as they’ll be playing the second night of a tackle, and no matter how easy it was against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday to fly into a new town in the wee hours of the morning in front of a talented one Celtics team (no matter how confused they are) that had a day to rest and relax will be a challenging task

Since Norman Powell was put on the grid in his last nine games, he’s got a crack at an average of 23, 4 points per game on a 507 percent shoot from the field and a 475 percent clip from the deep (on 68 tries) / p>

But as strong as it was, the age-old dilemma of whether or not Powell should continue has re-emerged

On the one hand, historical evidence doesn’t lie. Powell is definitely a better starter than a reserve player He scores an average of eight points more per game if he has the chance to start than he does when he gets off the bench

On the other hand, the prospect of OG Anunoby returning to the line-up on Thursday after an eight game absence (Raptors coach Nick Nurse said Anunoby would play 50-50 against Boston), the prospect is that Powell will make a good return on the bench as Nurse apparently preferred to start with a more traditional line-up with Aron Baynes in the middle rather than the small-ball unit he often uses to close games

There is little doubt that Powell has a chance at becoming a full-time starter, but we just have to see if that finally comes up for the six-year veteran

Another raptor who has looked great lately is Pascal Siakam, who averages 25, 7 points, 66 rebounds and 43 assists while shooting 508 percent off the field in his last seven games

The old aggression and boast he had when trying to cope instead of just trying to get calls was a noticeable change in his game and a major reason he was more efficient and successful as well his aggression was rewarded with the free-throws he tried to draw – he made about seven free throws per game in that six-game period

And even more encouraging is the fact that his three-point shot is now also rounded in shape in his last two games, Siakam is 8-12 from the range after shooting just 135 percent from the three-point range

In short, Siakam’s game is shooting at all cylinders right now, and although he had a decent game the last time Toronto saw Boston in early January, he’s trending in a very different direction right now than it was back then and numbers ready for a big one, effective game on Thursday

Toronto’s game against Boston on Thursday marks the end of a six-game road trip that was largely successful The club has so far been 4: 1

A 5-1 win for a good feel-good roadie for the club would be a nice reward for all the hard work the Raptors have done to put themselves back in a position to get back to 500 Perhaps more importantly however, that a win on Thursday will help ease the pressure for the remainder of the difficult time on their schedule

Though the Raptors end a six game road trip, they’ll only get a small break if they play the Minnesota Timberwolves “home” in Tampa on Sunday before hitting the road with Back-to for three more – back Encounters against the Milwaukee Bucks before seeing the Timberwolves again, this time in Minnesota

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Raptors vs. Celtics, Raptors Game

World News – CA – What to Look For in Raptors’ Thursday Matchup vs. Celts