Toronto (25-32) at Boston (23-36)

Cloudy Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 43° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Fri Feb 27, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics may be battling for one of the final postseason spots in the Eastern Conference, but neither has played like a playoff-caliber club lately.

Toronto and Boston each look to snap a seven-game losing streak when they begin a home-and-home series with a matchup at the FleetCenter.

The Raptors are seventh in the East, just a half-game ahead of the Miami Heat for the eighth and final playoff berth. The Celtics, meanwhile, trail eighth-place Miami by 2 1/2 games.

Toronto, without injured starters Vince Carter, Jalen Rose and Alvin Williams, lost 76-74 at home to the lowly Washington Wizards on Wednesday for its season-high seventh straight defeat.

The Raptors haven’t dropped eight in a row since ending last season on an eight-game skid.

“If I could put my finger on it, I’d tell everybody so we could learn to pick it up,” said Toronto forward Donyell Marshall, who scored a game-high 20 points Wednesday. “I don’t know why, especially against teams we have to come in here and beat.

“We need these wins to try and hold things down. I know it sounds like a broken record but these games are very important.”

Boston’s longest losing streak in almost four years reached seven games on Wednesday with a 106-104 home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Celtics, who have dropped 13 of 14, are mired in their worst slide since losing 10 straight from March 20-April 7, 2000.

On Wednesday, the Celtics thought they had snapped their skid when Walter McCarty hit a 3-pointer at the fourth-quarter buzzer with Boston trailing by two points.

The referees, however, ruled the shot came too late and waved it off to send the Celtics to their fifth straight home loss. Boston hasn’t lost six in a row at the FleetCenter since March 21-April 4, 1999.

Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 21 points before fouling out with 2:49 remaining.

“This was a tough one to lose because we had a lot of opportunities,” Pierce said. “When you miss 17 free throws and lose by two points, that says it all.”

The Raptors and Celtics conclude the home-and-home set on Sunday in Toronto.

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