The starting lineups
With Hayward out, Brad Stevens has inserted Marcus Smart into the starting lineup with commendable results.
Never one to carry the load offensively, but always there to back up a teammate and lock down on defence, Smart is a player you’d love to have on your team, but hate to play against. Hmmm… Where have we heard that one before?
If Lowry is able to go against the Celtics, he’ll most likely have his hands full guarding king of the step-backs Kemba Walker, but if he is to cross paths with Smart somewhere in the backcourt, watch out. Both Lowry and Smart have an affinity for working the opposition just as hard as they work officials.
While Smart and Lowry could bring the sizzle, Pascal Siakam and Jason Tatum might be where the steak is at. Tatum tore through the 76ers in their first round matchup, averaging 27 points and just under 10 rebounds over the course of the series.
Siakam was a little mild through Toronto’s first two games against Brooklyn. However, he cranked up the Scoville units in Game 3 with a 26-point effort.
Siakam looked much less hesitant to go inside and drive to the basket, where his length often allows him to extend the ball to the backboard around the outstretched arms of rim protectors. Both Tatum and Siakam take pride in defending as well, so look no further than these two superstars for the keys to this series.
Another interesting spot in the lineup is at the centre position. After Al Horford signed on with Philadelphia this offseason, Boston promoted the aforementioned Theis to the starting lineup.
Theis has seen the proportional gains in his statistics that you’d expect with more playing time. However, the 6’8 native of Salzgitter, Germany is still undersized for his position.
Could the much bigger Marc Gasol, who was lifted for Serge Ibaka late in Games 2, 3 and 4 finally get his rhythm going against Theis? Or will the Raptors opt for Ibaka to continue to get the bulk of the playing time at the five?