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With the Boston Celtics' first two games of the season looking like potential Eastern Conference Finals matchup possibilities, the team figures to be tested as early in the season as is possible.


And the first half of that test, the team passed with flying colors, dispatching Atlantic Division rival Philadelphia 76ers in convincing fashion. But will the same hold true against a revamped Toronto Raptors?

Questions may still linger as to whether Kawhi Leonard is really still a top-level NBA player, as while his 24-point, 12 board debut may have diminished those concerns, his .409 field goal percentage and .333 three-point rate aren't exactly screaming MVP candidate yet, either.

For Boston's part, they have a pair of recuperating basketball savants of their own in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, both able to contribute to winning basketball as Kawhi has shown in the smallest of sample sizes, so there may actually be a little more than usual available to learn from in tonight's matchup between the two clubs than is normally available in the second game of the season.

Keep an eye to how these three players fit into their current situation as much as how they play as individuals - in both scenarios, that may be as or more important than what they have to offer as a player for the success of their respective teams.



The Celtics are better prepared to compete if one or both may prove a lesser version of their expected production by season's end, but Leonard's ceiling may be higher to what he could add to the team. And no matter how tonight plays out, make sure to remember there's 80 more games in the season - and another East team that may just challenge Boston come spring.

For more stories by Justin, click here.



Image: Brian Babineau/NBAE; videos; Gary Washburn
Follow Justin at @justinquinnn

Justin Quinn 10/19/2018 12:41:00 PM Edit
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