Popovich was asked whether he expected fans to boo Leonard, who played just nine games last season with the Spurs due to a right quadriceps injury.
Leonard requested a trade in June amidst reports of tension between his representatives and the Spurs' front office.
Leonard scored 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting, but was showered with boos and jeers throughout the contest.
One of the hecklers aimed their negativity toward Kim Leonard, Kawhi's mother, who was sitting near the end line wearing a Raptors jersey with Leonard's number on the back.
After another mesmerizing performance - which included a game-winning 3-pointer in overtime - Harden is averaging 40.1 points, 9.0 assists and 6.6 rebounds over his last 12 games.
San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan talks to the media during USA Basketball's minicamp Thursday, July 26, 2018, at the Mendenhall Center on the campus of UNLV. "You're in a zone of just trying to focus on what you're going to do".
And as Raptors coach Nick Nurse pointed out, if there's any player unflappable enough to withstand a choir of 20,000 spiteful voices, it's Leonard.
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The circumstances surrounding Leonard's final season in San Antonio still are shrouded in mystery. "So I felt badly, in all honesty".
Maybe we should have seen this coming.
On an emotional night, the fans had their say even if Leonard may never publicly utter a word about the ordeal or take some blame for his exit.
Popovich told reporters in late November he thought Leonard was a "great player, but he wasn't a leader or anything" during his seven seasons in San Antonio.
Asked specifically why he wanted out of San Antonio, Leonard said, "I'm not going to discuss that here today".
"We keep saying that all of these games are preparing us for later on down the road, so I hope it's wild and noisy and a close game and all those things that can help us grow as a team".
The other player the Raptors acquired in the blockbuster trade predicted as much on Thursday. I'm waiting to see just like everybody else. I left a team, and it was not good blood there.