The NBA’s Atlantic Division teams had roster shakeups this summer and the 1-0 Toronto Raptors and 0-1 Boston Celtics led the way. Toronto lost superstar Kawhi Leonard and key role player Danny Green from its championship-winning team while Boston lost Kyrie Irving and Al Horford from one of Eastern Conference’s top teams.
However, both teams still figure to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors still have lots of high-quality players on the roster and the Celtics signed All-Star Kemba Walker to replace Irving.
Today the two teams will meet for an early-season matchup (7pm ET Friday). Which squad will come out on top, and why? We’ll look into some key variables that will play into the outcome of the game and the betting lines that are posted online before giving our Toronto Raptors vs Boston Celtics predictions.
Can Celtics’ Offensive Attack Find a Little Bit More Balance?
In the Celtics’ first game against the Philadelphia 76ers, they managed just 93 points in a loss. Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward and Kemba Walker scored 58 of the points and took 55 of the 90 shots. Many of those points were self-created and not a result of good offensive flow.
Nine other players got minutes in the game, but they combined for just 35 points on 35 field-goal attempts. One of those “others” was Enes Kanter, who had a decent game of 12 points. Kanter will miss today’s game with a knee injury, however. No one who came off the Celtics bench had more than five points.
The Raptors, like the 76ers, are a strong defensive team, and will have no problem beating the Celtics if Boston revolves its offense around only three players.
Can Marc Gasol Find a Way to Get Involved in Raptors’ Offense?
The Celtics’ biggest weakness this season is undeniably its poor big man rotation. Kanter, Robert Williams, Daniel Theis and Vincent Poirier is not the group of bigs you’d like to have for aspirations of a deep playoff run.
With Kanter sidelined today, the Celtics’ interior depth will be even worse. Williams, Theis and Poirier all have their unique strengths, but one thing each of them shares is a tendency to foul incessantly. That’s one huge thing standing between all of them and being a starting-caliber big man.
Toronto has Marc Gasol starting at center but the team doesn’t usually look for him to play aggressively on offense. He averaged fewer than 10 points per game and two free-throw attempts per game in both the regular season and playoffs for the Raptors last year. He had only six points and one assist in 32 minutes during the Raptors’ season-opening win.
Today that needs to change. Toronto needs to utilize Gasol in pick-and-roll, pick-and-pop and post-up situations to take advantage of the Celtics’ weakness inside. Gasol has a very big body and can shoot above the Celtics’ bigs or draw fouls on them with crafty moves inside.
Will Fred VanVleet Be Significantly Affected By His Ankle Injury?
In the Raptors’ opening-night win over the New Orleans Pelicans, Toronto guard VanVleet tripped over a cameraman and mildly injured his ankle. He should be OK to play against the Celtics but Toronto is at a significant disadvantage if VanVleet is not himself.
The 6-foot guard had a fantastic 34 points, seven assists and two steals in 44 minutes as the Raptors won in overtime against the Pelicans.
VanVleet is a solid defender given his size, but that size does hurt his versatility on defense quite a bit. The Celtics have three wings with offensive skill (Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown) who will go at VanVleet, especially if he is slightly hobbled. Considering the Raptors’ mediocre depth, Toronto needs VanVleet to be himself.
Our Preview’s Toronto Raptors vs Boston Celtics Betting Picks & Predictions
I think the Raptors are more ready for the start of this season than the Celtics. Toronto is already playing a short, eight-man rotation with their best players all getting significant minutes, while Boston seems to still be tinkering with minutes. Especially since Kanter is out, there is a lot of instability in the Celtics’ rotation that could hurt them against a Raptors team that already has well-established chemistry.
Toronto’s roster is built more for a half-court game and given Marc Gasol’s advantage at center over the Celtics’ bigs, I think the Raptors will keep this game slow and try to make the Celtics’ young wings beat them in the half court. These are the Toronto Raptors vs Boston Celtics predictions for this NBA game preview:
- The Celtics are favored by 3 points at home. I definitely like the Raptors’ odds with the major USA online sports betting sites here, so I suggestbetting on Toronto +3 @ best odds of -105 with Bovada.
- As mentioned before, the Raptors and their established roster will be able to dictate pace in this game and feature Gasol more in the half-court game. Bet under 215.5 total points @ best odds of -110 with 5Dimes.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.