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.”