Celtics-Raptors Preview

A blow to Chris Bosh’s face may have done serious damage to the

Toronto Raptors’ playoff chances. The All-Star forward isn’t doing

all that well, either.

The Raptors will try to withstand the absence of their leading

scorer and rebounder when they attempt to halt a seven-game losing

streak to the visiting Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.

Toronto (38-39) has dropped 15 of 23, including a 113-101 defeat

at Cleveland on Tuesday in a possible first-round playoff

preview.

The Raptors’ biggest loss against the Cavaliers was Bosh, who

was accidentally struck by the elbow of the Cavaliers’ Antawn

Jamison in the opening three minutes.

Bosh, who had blood dripping from his nose and mouth area as he

was assisted from the floor, was taken to the Cleveland Clinic for

a CT scan.

The Raptors said in a statement that tests showed the power

forward suffered a “maxilla and nasal fracture to the right side of

his face.” Bosh remained in Cleveland on Wednesday after being

hospitalized overnight.

The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Raptors,

who are clinging to a one-game lead over Chicago with five to play

for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern

Conference.

Toronto has a tough week ahead, with games against Boston

(48-29) and Atlanta before hosting the Bulls on Sunday in a matchup

that may determine the playoff fates of both teams.

“We have to keep fighting, regardless if we have him or not,”

said guard Jarrett Jack, who led the Raptors with 23 points

Tuesday. “It doesn’t get any easier and you can’t run. Timing is

never perfect it seems in the NBA. It happens and you have to deal

with it. It’s part of the game like anything else. Injuries are

part of it.”

With every game so crucial, the Raptors may not be able to

afford having Bosh on the sidelines. He leads the team with

career-high averages of 24.0 points and 10.8 rebounds.

Bosh had 31 points and 13 boards in a 114-107 home loss to the

Celtics on Jan. 10 as the Raptors’ losing streak in the series

reached seven games. Toronto has managed only one win in the last

12 meetings with Boston, dropping five in a row at Air Canada

Centre.

If the Raptors are to have realistic hopes of beating the

Celtics without Bosh, they could use a better performance from

Andrea Bargnani. The center is shooting 32.4 percent from the floor

in his last two games, averaging 14.5 points.

Bargnani had 23 points in the most recent meeting with

Boston.

Despite already having clinched their third consecutive Atlantic

Division title, the Celtics have dropped four of five and are one

game behind the Hawks for the conference’s third-best record.

They failed to pull even with Atlanta on Tuesday, losing 104-101

at New York as they botched their final possession and failed to

get a game-tying 3-point attempt off in the final seconds.

“We didn’t execute. It was simple as that,” coach Doc Rivers

said. “I thought we just showed up and played basketball, and we

had no focus. We deserved to lose. I just thought we absolutely

deserved that.”