Leonard's Raptors host Hayward, Celtics
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TORONTO -- The Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors each had a couple of questions answered in their season-opening victories.
The Eastern Conference rivals meet Friday night at Toronto for their second game of the season.
Boston's Gordon Hayward played well enough in his first regular-season game, scoring 10 points and grabbing five rebounds in a 105-87 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, after he missed almost all last season with a gruesome left ankle fracture that occurred in the first quarter of his Celtics debut Oct. 17, 2017.
"That was a big step for me mentally," Hayward said after playing 24:37 on Tuesday. "It was a big confidence-booster just to finish that first game. Being back out on the court -- that was a big hurdle."
The Raptors had 24 points and 12 rebounds from Kawhi Leonard on Wednesday night in a 116-104 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in his debut with the team after being acquired in an offseason deal with the San Antonio Spurs, who received DeMar DeRozan. It also was a return to regular-season action for Leonard after he a quadriceps injury cost him most of last season.
"It felt good," said Leonard, who played 37 minutes. "I'm happy we came out and got a win; came out the game healthy, so it's a win-win for me."
The victory also was the first in the NBA for new coach Nick Nurse, who has taken over from Dwane Casey, who now coaches the Detroit Pistons.
"Well it is pretty cool," Nurse said. "It is good to get it done. It was a little bit nerve-racking there towards the end. The coaching when you have a nice lead and all of sudden it starts shrinking down there towards the end. The clock seems to be moving really slow but really cool to get it done and know we can stop talking about that and get ready to start coaching."
Both teams showed their depth in the openers, with each team having nine players who logged double-digit minutes. Each team had five players in double-digit scoring in their respective openers.
In the Celtics' case, Aron Baynes at 19:14 had the least playing time among those nine and no one played more than 30 minutes. Logging the least time among the Raptors double-digit minute players was C.J. Miles with 10:23.
The Celtics also had Kyrie Irving back. He had missed chunks of time last season with injuries. He had only seven points and seven assists in 29 minutes in his first game since March.
"Kyrie still kept a great attitude, still pushed the ball," fellow Celtics guard Terry Rozier said. "You couldn't even tell he wasn't having a great night, because he still plays with pace."
"Playing with Terry is one of my best times that I have out there," Irving said. "I know he's going to get the rebound, I'm going to get the rebound, we're going to run to our spots, and we're going to get everybody working. So, I'm just looking forward to the dynamic lineups we have."
"I mean, Kyrie's never going to have a game like that, probably," Celtics coach Brad Stevens aid. "And that's -- you know, everybody's been talking about Gordon being gone for 12 months, but Kyrie's been out for six. And I had no intention of really restricting him minutes-wise, but it's probably not all bad to play 29 in that first one and get your feet underneath you and get ready to go from here."
The Raptors had 59 wins last season and the Celtics won 55. Yet it was the Celtics who reached the Eastern Conference finals and lost to the Cavaliers in seven games.
"Obviously Boston's got 14 guys back and a rotation that is pretty deep and obviously everybody's picked them to go to the Finals and get the No. 1 seed and all that stuff," Nurse said.
Updated October 18, 2018