Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics Game Preview: Can Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard build on opening night momentum?

Kawhi Leonard vs. Jayson Tatum (NBA Getty Images)

After opening their season with a 116-104 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers , the Toronto Raptors host the Boston Celtics at Scotiabank Arena on Friday.

The Celtics also won their season opener against the Philadelphia 76ers, so both teams go into this matchup 1-0.

Many early season predictions expect this to be a preview of this year's Eastern Conference Finals, and on the national television stage, it's sure to live up to the hype.

The game will be televised at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on SN1.

Here's what to watch for both the Raptors and Celtics in this Eastern Conference powerhouse battle...

What to watch for the Toronto Raptors

After big opening nights for both Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard leading to a Toronto victory, the Raptors are now challenged with one of the top teams in the NBA. A season ago, each team defended home court, splitting the series two-to-two. The Raptors won by 20, 111-91, in their first meeting at home against the Celtics in February followed by a 96-78 home win in April.

The Raptors have not lost to Boston in Toronto since a one-point overtime win back in April of 2015.

The Raptors shot 42.4 percent from beyond the arc on opening night, doubling the number of 3s the Cavaliers converted. You can expect them to continue to let it fly from deep, considering head coach Nick Nurse has given everybody the green light to shoot from the perimeter.

One area the Raptors will have to improve on to defeat the Celtics is defense. Allowing 104 points to the Cavaliers was less than ideal, but they took their foot off the gas late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter, making the final score closer than the game appeared. The Raptors are a better defensive team than advertised on Wednesday night and you can assume they'll make adjustments accordingly.

Lowry and Leonard are sure to step up on this big stage just as they did on opening night. If the Raptors' supporting cast can play as well as they did on Wednesday, they'll be in good shape to defeat their Eastern Conference foe at home.

Delon Wright (abductor) and OG Anunoby (eye bruise) are both listed as questionable.

MORE: Key takeaways from Kawhi's Raptors' debut

What to watch for the Boston Celtics

The Celtics' depth on opening night proved to be too much for the 76ers. Despite a poor shooting performance from Kyrie Irving (2-14 FG, 1-8 3PT), they still pulled off an 18-point victory behind 23 points, nine rebounds, three assists and a steal from phenom Jayson Tatum.

Even though they came away with a lopsided victory, Boston played a sloppy brand of basketball on Tuesday with 15 turnovers. They only shot 29.7 percent from deep, making 11 of their 37 attempts, which is significantly lower than the 37.7 percent they shot a year ago.

Al Horford continued to anchor the Celtics defense but only attempted seven shots on offense, sacrificing attempts to Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown.

With the playoff atmosphere anticipated on the national stage for these top two Eastern Conference teams, you can expect Kyrie to find his groove and get going after his poor showing the other night. Don't expect Horford to remain as silent in the box score either.

On the other side of the ball, the Celtics defense will make scoring more difficult for the Raptors than Cleveland did, considering they held Philadelphia to 87 points, 39.1 percent shooting from the field and 19.2 percent from 3-point range.

It should be a lot of fun to watch Kawhi Leonard and Jayson Tatum go head-to-head in a matchup of this caliber and the team that comes away with the win will gain some great momentum going into the 2018-19 season.

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