The Toronto Raptors two biggest competitors for the Eastern Conference this season are the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers. What did we learn from their first matchup?
The Toronto Raptors are among the top teams of the Eastern Conference. The other two, the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics, were showcased in the NBA’s season opener.
Watching the Raptors two most prominent challengers to the Eastern Conference showdown helped teach us a couple of things. Here are three things we learned from the Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers season opener:
It’s deeper than that
The Toronto Raptors are one of the deepest teams in the NBA. The Boston Celtics are just as deep.
Boston has waves of players they can continue to throw on the court, receiving little if any drop-off. Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris, Aron Baynes (Aron Baynes who outplayed Joel Embiid last night), and Marcus Smart could all start for a significant amount of teams. Even the deeper parts of their bench like Daniel Theis and Semi Ojeleye could play if need be.
Philly has the top-line talent but will continue to bleed bench points against Toronto and Boston.
Hayward and Fultz return
Hayward played 24 minutes put up 10 points and five rebounds but looked like a shell of his former self. The explosion’s not there, and it might take him a few weeks or months to return to his prior form.
Fultz box score doesn’t look great (five points on seven attempts), but he looked far more comfortable on the court. He attempted a high volume of pull-up shots, and when he and Ben Simmons got it rolling together, they looked unstoppable.
Boston is a step ahead
It’s important not to overreact from one game. Early one, however, it appears as if Boston is the biggest obstacle on the Raptors path to the NBA finals.
We suspected this going in. Boston is a more complete roster and accomplished more as a team last season without two of their top three players.
The 76ers certainly have the top-end talent to change this conversation, but for now, Boston and Toronto is the matchup that decides the East.