Raptors and Celtics set to revive Toronto-Boston sports rivalry

 

The Toronto Raptors remain in the hunt for a chance to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy in back-to-back seasons, as they put the Brooklyn Nets out of their misery on Sunday, completing the franchise's first-ever playoff sweep in a 150-122 victory.

While the Raptors completed several feats in Sunday night's win, including scoring the most bench points ever in an NBA playoff game with 100, it did come at a cost.

Kyle Lowry appeared to roll his ankle in the first quarter. Ever the competitor, Lowry initially attempted to stay in the game, but he was visibly hobbled, and he was forced to commit a foul to stop the clock and allow for a substitution.

After being subbed out of the game, Lowry immediately left for the locker room, and did not return for the rest of the game. An MRI on Monday confirmed he suffered an ankle sprain.

After the Toronto Maple Leafs were eliminated from playoff contention shortly after the NHL resumed its season, it appeared the Toronto-Boston sports rivalry wouldn't get a playoff installment this year.

However, with the Boston Celtics having dispatched a Philadelphia 76ers team that looked like a shell of the team that took the defending champion Raptors to seven games in round two of last year's playoffs, and the Raptors eliminating the Nets, the Raptors and Celtics will meet in the playoffs for the first time.

Despite the Celtics winning three of the four meetings between these two teams during the regular season, including an emphatic 122-100 beatdown of the Raptors during the seeding games--the Raptors only loss thus far in bubble play--Canada's lone NBA franchise opened as a slight betting favourite going into the much-anticipated second-round series.

While Lowry's status for game one is still unclear, the Celtics will be without one of their key players in forward Gordon Hayward, who is also dealing with an ankle sprain.

The Celtics could be without Hayward for the entirety of the series, as he is expected to miss up to four weeks with his injury, and he is no longer in the NBA bubble--having elected to leave and return when he is closer to being able to play.

Fans of high-scoring basketball may be disappointed with the upcoming series, as the Raptors finished with the NBA's second-best defense, while the Celtics' defense was in the top five for efficiency.

The series will also feature an exciting matchup, as two of the Association's rising young stars, Toronto's Pascal Siakam and Boston's Jayson Tatum, will square off for the first time in the postseason.

The Toronto-Boston playoff rivalry's 2020 chapter is set to start Thursday, August 27, with tipoff scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Cover photo courtesy of the Toronto Raptors via Instagram

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