The Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors both enter Friday night’s game coming off a season-opening loss. Here’s three things we’ll be watching for, as both look to get their first win of the season:
1. Turnovers – Boston turned the ball over 18 times against New York. You might think that can be explained away with being inflated by the two overtimes. Alas, the Celtics handled it well in the extra periods, as they didn’t turn it over even once. All 18 cough-ups came in regulation.
The Raptors did the Celtics one better, with 19 turnovers. That was one of Nick Nurse’s biggest laments was that Toronto’s offense never got going due to the carelessness with the ball.
Over the years, the turnover battle has gone a long way towards deciding the outcome when Boston and Toronto meet. Whoever gets their ball control sorted out will have a distinct advantage in this one.
2. Big man rotation – In the opener, Ime Udoka only played two bigs. Robert Williams and Grant Williams started up front. Grant Williams then essentially functioned as the backup big as well. Essentially, Boston ran with a lot of small-ball, four-out lineups.
Al Horford is listed as questionable for this game, as he works his way back from a COVID-related quarantine. It’s assumed Horford will take over for Grant Williams as a starter, at least on a part-time basis. The Raptors went small in their opener, with OG Anunoby playing the four. Does Udoka downsize or take advantage of a rare size advantage?
One other thing to keep an eye on: Enes Kanter was a DNP-CD on opening night. Toronto is fairly small and they don’t have a ton of interior defense. This could be an opportunity for Kanter to do some damage in the paint. That comes with defensive issues, but the Raptors aren’t a high-powered offensive group. Look for Kanter to see some run, especially if Boston’s offense needs a boost.
3. Jayson Tatum bouncing back – Jayson Tatum shot the ball horribly in the opener. He missed open looks. He missed contested looks. He even missed several wide-open looks. It’s not uncommon for Tatum to start a season slowly, but this was an extreme. Look for a major bounce-back game from Tatum. That will be important, as it’s fair to expect Jaylen Brown to come back to earth a bit.
What are you looking for in the second game of the season? Let us know in the comments what you’re hoping to see from the Celtics as they look to get a win in their home opener.