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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, January 15th (All times Eastern)

Toronto Raptors (19-17) at Boston Celtics (13-26), 7:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Raptors are pulling away a bit in the Atlantic Division and will try to put more space in between themselves and another contender when they visit the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.

The Raptors have won three in a row and eight of the last 10. They are 12-5 since trading Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings and own a 4 1/2-game lead over the Brooklyn Nets in the Atlantic Division.

All three of their recent victories came at the Air Canada Centre, but the Raptors have dropped two in a row on the road. Forgive them the losses, but the opponents were the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat and Toronto fell by a combined 12 points.

On Saturday, the Raps ended the homestand with a 116-94 drubbing of the lowly Milwaukee Bucks.

"We don't have any right, yet, to overlook anyone," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. "This is a tough league and we're still building, we're still getting there, so I can't allow our guys to have that in their thought process."

Kyle Lowry scored 23 points on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc to help lead the Raptors.

"He's been playing at an All-Star level," Casey said of Lowry.

DeMar DeRozan netted 19 points and Jonas Valanciunas recorded a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds for Toronto, which has won five straight at home.

Patrick Patterson and John Salmons scored 18 and 10 points off the bench, respectively, in the win.

The Celtics have dropped nine in a row, which is the franchise's seventh- longest skid. Boston is on its longest slide since a franchise-worst 18-game losing streak back in 2007.

The ninth consecutive setback came on Saturday. After the C's returned from a five-game western swing, the Houston Rockets came to Beantown and left with a 104-92 victory.

Avery Bradley poured in 24 points and Jerryd Bayless chipped in with 17. Brandon Bass added 14 and Jordan Crawford managed 13 in what could be one of his final starts.

That's because it seems like All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo is close to a return.

"29,233,280 secs," Rondo wrote on his Twitter account Monday, implying the 338-day time frame between his surgery to repair a torn ACL last February and Friday's game between the Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told the media on Tuesday that Rondo will undergo a vigorous workout Wednesday to test his right knee and is a possibility to play in Friday's contest if he comes out of the session OK.

"We've got a day planned, a pretty strenuous day for him, tomorrow," said Stevens. "And then we'll go from there.

"I would think that there's a chance that he will be back for Friday."

The Raptors beat the Celtics by six on opening night in Toronto, but they've lost 10 in a row at TD Bank Garden.

01/15 10:34:56 ET

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