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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, April 17th (All times Eastern)

Boston Celtics (41-39) at Toronto Raptors (33-48), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Boston Celtics will make an emotional return to the court on Wednesday night when they visit the Toronto Raptors in their first game since Monday's horrific tragedy at the Boston Marathon.

The Celtics were scheduled to host the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night but the NBA canceled the game out of respect. Boston is locked into the seventh seed and Indiana will be third, so the game had no baring on the standings.

"The notion of playing a basketball game a day later didn't feel right," said Celtics President Rich Gotham. "Some things are bigger than basketball."

The explosions hit close to home for head coach Doc Rivers.

"I always go down after practice and watch every year that we've been in town, because I live literally two blocks from the finish line," Rivers said Tuesday. "I was on my way, actually. I had just gotten out of the (Copley Square/Prudential Center) tunnel when the bomb exploded.

"The city has responded. It was awesome watching people help people. I'm driving and you can see people helping people walk, helping people go to the right places. This city has an amazing amount of spirit and I think it showed last night and today still."

The Celtics will have a city, if not a nation behind them on Wednesday as they try to cope with the senseless acts.

On the court Wednesday, many Boston veterans will probably get the night off.

The Celtics know they'll face the New York Knicks in the first round of the postseason. The Knicks won the Atlantic Division and grabbed the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

Rivers even thinks he knows when they'll play.

"We feel we'll play Saturday because the Rangers play on Sunday," Rivers said, referring to the hockey team that shares Madison Square Garden with the Knicks. "So you're not going to have a lot of time - like true time, where there's no other team in front of you and you just focus on them. You'll have two days."

The Raptors won their fourth in a row Tuesday night in Atlanta over the Hawks. The Atlanta regulars didn't see much action as they've clinched a playoff spot and head coach Larry Drew didn't care which seed, fifth or sixth, the Hawks got.

DeMar DeRozan scored 30 for the Raptors, while Rudy Gay added 22.

"We're playing freely. We're going out there and not thinking so much, playing with our abilities and instincts," DeRozan said. "We've got a lot of talent on this team. When we play like we played tonight, we're tough to beat."

In addition to the four-game winning streak, Toronto has won six of seven and seems to be peaking. Unfortunately, there will be no postseason for the Raptors.

"Too bad it's coming at this time when we're out of the playoffs," guard Kyle Lowry said.

The Celtics have swept the season series with the Raptors and the two teams have split the last six in Canada.

04/17 10:23:14 ET

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