By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Celtics are going to have to battle the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors without their starting center, as the team has already ruled out Enes Kanter for Friday’s home opener at TD Garden due to a left knee contusion.
‘A little banged up’ in the team’s loss to the 76ers, Kanter’s hobble likely came as a result of a sequence that ended with Philadelphia guard Josh Richardson smashing right into Kanter’s left knee in the second quarter. Kanter was slow to rejoin the play the other way, but didn’t leave the game, and finished with 12 points and six rebounds in 24:58.
Kanter’s absence will certainly change the dynamic of the Boston frontcourt, as it really leaves the already-undersized Celtics with second-year pro Robert Williams III and 6-foot-8 big Daniel Theis as the team’s two options at the five.
Williams III finished Wednesday’s loss with five points and three rebounds in 10 minutes, and actually led all Celtics with a plus-7. Theis, meanwhile, had three points (all from the free throw line) and a board in nine minutes off the C’s bench.
French center Vincent Poirier, who did not draw into the Green’s season-opening loss to the 76ers, could also jump into action for Boston.
No matter the No. 1 option deployed by Celtics coach Brad Stevens, there’s no doubt that Boston’s de facto starting center will have his hands full against a Raptor frontcourt led by 7-foot-1 veteran Marc Gasol.
The 27-year-old Kanter will not be the only Celtic sitting this one out, though, as the team will remain without rookie two-guard Romeo Langford (knee) and 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall (concussion protocol).
This will be the first of four head-to-heads between the C’s and Raptors in 2019-20. The teams split last year’s season series 2-2, with the home teams holding serve throughout the four-game sample.