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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, April 17th (All times eastern)

Boston Celtics (44-35) at Toronto Raptors (32-47), 6 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Boston Celtics will look to wrap up their first Atlantic Division title in 13 years this evening, when they take on the upset- minded Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre.

Boston leads Philadelphia by three games in the Atlantic with just three to play. Barring consecutive defeats to Toronto, Cleveland and New Jersey, and Philadelphia winning out, the Celtics will take home the Atlantic Division crown for the first time since 1991-92. It would also mark Boston's 25th division title and give it the third seed in the East.

The Celtics have come up with three consecutive huge victories, including a 101-99 win over Miami at the FleetCenter on Friday night. Paul Pierce finished with 22 points and hit a key jumper with nine seconds left to lift the Celtics to the win.

Al Jefferson netted a career-high 19 points and Ricky Davis added 16 for the Celtics, who have won three straight and six of their last eight games. Antoine Walker posted 13 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists in the victory. Ricky Davis tacked on 16 points off the bench in the game.

Boston shot 46.3 percent from the field, including 4-of-16 (.250) from three- point range. The Celtics drained 21-of-34 (.618) from the free throw line and outrebounded the Heat, 50-35.

Boston ended a four-game losing streak to the Heat. The Celtics also defeated Miami for the fourth time in six meetings in Beantown.

The Celtics, who are beginning a two-game road trip tonight, are 17-22 in foreign buildings this season. Boston has won nine of its last 12 road contests.

Boston will need to hold off Indiana for homecourt advantage in the first round of the postseason. The Celtics are currently one contest in front of the sixth seeded Pacers for the all-important advantage.

Toronto can play only spoiler in this tilt, as it has been out of the playoff picture for awhile. The Raptors have lost three of their last four, including a 101-90 loss to ex-teammate Vince Carter and the New Jersey Nets at home on Friday.

Jalen Rose paced the Raptors with 20 points, while Chris Bosh added 18 points in the contest. Morris Peterson added 15 points and Rafer Alston tacked on 13 points and seven assists in the game.

Toronto was without the services of forward Eric Williams, who is struggling with a strained calf. Williams is questionable for this evening's contest.

The Raptors shot 47.7 percent, including 7-of-20 (.350) from three-point range in the defeat. Toronto hit 21-of-31 (.677) from the charity stripe in the game.

Toronto, which is closing out a two-game homestand, is 22-17 in its friendly confines this season. The Raptors lost five of six and six of their last nine home games.

The home team has won all three meetings between these teams this season. However, Boston has won six of nine and eight of the last 13 meetings overall. Nonetheless, the Celtics have lost four of five and seven of their last nine at Toronto.

04/17 10:10:05 ET


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