The Celtics opened their season with a big test against the Sixers. They passed that test with flying colors. Tonight, in game #2, they face another big test. Kawhi Leonard and the new look Toronto Raptors.
Over the years the Celtics have had some real trouble against the Raptors, going 7-13 under head coach Brad Stevens. Eesh. That’s the worst record against an Eastern team under the President. Tonight will be no easy task.
Over the off-season the Raptors made the big move to acquire Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs in exchange for DeMar DeRozan. I like DeMar a lot and I hope Pop can bring the best out of him, but that’s a huge upgrade for Toronto. When healthy Kawhi is a top 5 player. A perennial DPOY candidate whose scoring has gone up every year, hitting 25.5ppg in his last full season with the Spurs. He’s a monster and he looked dammed good in his opening win with the Raptors (24 points, 13 rebounds).
This Raptor team is good. Kyle Lowry and Fred VanFleet at the point with OG Anunoby and Danny Green at the two, they’ve got guard depth. Obviously Kawhi at the three is their strongest position. Pascal Siakam is a good young forward who can score. Jonas Valanciunas is a big bodied rebounding center.
They’ve got talent, they’ve got depth.
But they aren’t as good as the Celtics. They don’t have enough fire power to match up offensively, and I don’t think their defense is good enough to stop all the threats from the Celtics.
With a healthy Hayward and Kyrie getting back in the swing of things I think they create a tough matchup. If Kawhi stops Hayward, you go to Tatum. If Kyrie is off, you’ve got Brown at the two and Scary Terry on the bench. Al Horford should be able to handle Jonas and the rest of the Raptor bigs and do his normal Al thing, scoring timely buckets and facilitating the offense. The Celtics have just as much depth and better starters.
A huge test against a threat in the East and a potential playoff opponent, but a test that they have the answers to.
Celtics 105 Raptors 98