In a long NBA season, there are games — and then there are games.
When the Boston Celtics come into Toronto to take on the Raptors on a Friday night in 2018, it’s a gotdamn game.
Let’s summarize the situation. Both teams are coming off comfortable opening night wins, with the Celtics beating up on the Sixers, 105-87, while the Raptors took down the Cavaliers (recapped here and here). Both teams are also working in very good (or perhaps great) NBA players — the Celtics have a returning Gordon Hayward (and to a certain extent, Kyrie Irving); the Raptors, as you may have heard, now have Kawhi Leonard.
And, most importantly, both teams are gunning for the top spot in the East. Now, if you read some preview material heading into the new NBA season, it would sound like the Celtics were a lock for no. 1. There’s some merit to that — they have good players, a smart coach, and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals last year (minus those two aforementioned stars). Other thinking suggests the Raptors could be scary good too — and really, why not? They are deep, talented, and have a legit MVP candidate.
When asked about it before the game, Celtics coach Brad Stevens commended Toronto’s versatility, noting that was why both teams are in the position they’re in as East favourites. His squad, along with the Raptors, has downsized its starting lineup, but as Stevens notes: “It’s not small, it’s skill ball.”
Which brings us all back to the opening sentiment. Tonight’s game is just one game in a long NBA season, and it may not mean a lot by April, May, or June of 2019.
But still: it’s a game. Now let’s watch.
Our guy Dylan Litman had the punchy Raptors-Celtics preview this morning. Below are the updated details.
Where to Watch:
Sportsnet One, 8:00pm EST — and also ESPN if you’re in the U.S, no big deal.
Raptors – Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka
Celtics – Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford
Raptors – Delon Wright (Out - left abductor strain)
Celtics – Jabari Bird (Out - not being a good human being)