The Eastern Conference playoff race is heating up with the Raptors sitting pretty in second place just a game and a half behind the red-hot Bucks. The Boston Celtics also look well positioned for a playoff run and they stand a good chance of beating their projected season wins total. They are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and have a comfortable lead over the sixth-place Nets and the rest of the pack.
The Celtics will pay a visit to Toronto on Tuesday to take on the Raptors in what is sure to be a thrilling matchup. This will be the fourth meeting between these two Atlantic Division rivals and Toronto is looking to even up the season series. Toronto dropped the last two games in Boston after getting the win at home in the first meeting. Boston will need a big game out of Kyrie Irving while the Raptors will rely on Kawhi Leonard to deliver. Let’s figure out which of these stars will score more points.
Irving logged 41 minutes and scored 37 points in Saturday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls. He was a lot more productive than he was in his previous game versus Milwaukee in which he was held to 22 points despite playing the same amount of time. Irving has averaged 23.5 points so far this season and 22.6 points in February. He has had some success against Toronto this year. He only managed 21 points in the first game between these two teams but scored a season high 43 points in the second game and 27 points the last time these teams met. Irving hasn’t exactly been lighting it up on the road against playoff-caliber teams this year which makes 25 points scored on Tuesday a generous prediction.
Leonard has seen his production drop this month. While the Raptors are racking up wins, Leonard’s 21.6 points per game in February is significantly lower than his season average of 26.9. He has reached the 30-point plateau just once in his six February outings but he was held to fewer than 20 points in three of those games. He has been having some issues converting on his three-point and field goal attempts which is something that he’ll need to improve if he is going to outscore Irving.
A game against the Celtics might be exactly what Leonard needs. In his three games against Boston this season, Leonard has eclipsed the 30-point mark in all of them scoring 31 points twice and 33 points in the other one. It should also help that he is playing at home. Assuming Leonard sees his regular 34-plus minutes, he looks poised to have another 30-point performance.
My Pick: Kawhi Leonard scores more points than Kyrie Irving.
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