Last night the Boston Celtics lost to the Toronto Raptors 113-101 leaving Boston with a record of 1-1 and a pace to win just 41 games this season. That's a far cry from the 58 Vegas pegged as their over/under (I took the over).
Kawhi Leonard was a beast last night especially in the second half finishing with 31 points and the Toronto crowd chanting MVP! MVP! I know it's just the second game of the season but I think it's clear that it's a coin flip right now between Boston and Toronto as far as which team will be coming out of the East. And that's good news.
I think Boston needs this early season wake-up call. They were the equal or better than the Raptors for three quarters last night but just like game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last year their ability to hit a shot in the final minutes disappeared. Knowing that Toronto lurks should motivate the Celtics into not taking any nights off and the team's depth should allow for many contributors in many different scenarios.
Gordon Hayward looked much better and more comfortable last night than he did in his first game back. That's a really encouraging sign. He ended up with 14 points in just 24 minutes which is bad news for people who bet the under on 18.5 points per game projected for him in Vegas (hello Bill Simmons). When Hayward gets his minutes up over 30 or so a game it's easy to picture him scoring in the low 20's for the season. Which is also good news for another reason.
People keep suggesting that Kevin Durant may opt out of his contract with the Warriors at the end of the season. Many of those same people point to the New York Knicks as his new destination but why not the Celtics? When leaving OKC Durant narrowed his choices down to Golden State and Boston. What if the question of the road not taken has taken root in his mind? Also coming to Boston now almost guarantees Durant the ability to chase more rings something that would be very doubtful with the Knicks.
If Kevin Durant did want to come to Boston all it would take is trading Gordon Hayward (who should be in demand) to free up both the minutes and salary cap needed to allow that to happen. Danny Ainge could sign Durant for nothing and gain a few more draft picks and other assets with a Hayward trade. As much as I love Gordon Hayward it would be tough for Danny Ainge not to pick Durant in that scenario.
Just wanted to get that thought on the record.