Article Written by Jacob Pacheco (@JacobPacheco6)
Earlier today, the NBA released the opening week games for the 2018-19 season, as well as five Christmas Day games and three MLK (Martin Luther King) Day games. Raptors fans were quick to point out that their beloved team was nowhere to be found on the list of teams set to play on December 25th this year. The list goes as follows:
- Milwaukee Bucks vs New York Knicks
- Oklahoma City Thunder vs Houston Rockets
- Philadelphia 76ers vs Boston Celtics
- Los Angeles Lakers vs Golden State Warriors
- Portland Trail Blazers vs Utah Jazz
Although all five of these games won’t disappoint, many Raptors fans disagree with Milwaukee getting the spotlight to play on Christmas over the Raptors. After the latest acquisition of All-Star Kawhi Leonard in a blockbuster trade involving DeMar DeRozan, a lot of fans thought December 25th set up perfectly for Toronto vs San Antonio. Although the San Antonio Spurs are not the team they once were, it still would’ve been a great treat to Raptors and NBA fans to get a first look at the two All-Stars play against their former teams for the first time. Many also point out that the Knicks shouldn’t have a Christmas Day game with their not-so-great looking roster as it once looked in past years. However, it’s hard to compete with a great franchise from a business standpoint and also the aspect of playing at a historic arena in Madison Square Garden. So, the Knicks have that.
Although the Raptors didn’t get a Christmas Day game, they also did not get a game on January 21st 2019 (MLK day). The Raptors playing on Martin Luther King Day isn't unusual, as they have had multiple games on that day throughout the years. The recent Martin Luther King Day game was last season on January 15, 2018 - suffering a defeat from the 76ers.
Although Toronto missed out on Christmas and Martin Luther King Day games, they get an early jump into the season. It was announced that the Raptors will open their season against the Boston Celtics on October 19th at 8 p.m. on ESPN at home in the newly named Scotiabank Arena. As some of you may remember, last season on opening night the Boston Celtics lost their newly signed All-Star, Gordan Hayward, for the whole season due to a horrific leg injury. This year, however, the Celtics plan to have Hayward back and in the lineup, so people can see what this Celtics squad with All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving can really do. After that game against the Celtics, the Raptors will quickly hop on a flight to Washington where they will play the Wizards in D.C. at 7 p.m. for a back-to-back the next evening. That game will be televised on NBA TV.
A few other games that stand out on opening week is the Thunder vs Warrior;. or as many may call it, Westbrook vs Durant. Other huge games include the new look Lakers with the debut of LeBron James in his new threads. His first regular season game in a Lakers uniform comes against the Trail Blazers on October 18th at 10:30 p.m. ET. Two days after that, LeBron will make his home coming debut in Los Angeles as the Lakers host the Rockets at 10:30 p.m. on ESPN, where I’m sure millions will tune in to watch the King on his new team.
Although the Raptors and their fans didn’t get that special Christmas game they’ve been asking for for years, they get two early tough and televised games just days into the season. With the full NBA schedule rumored to be released in the coming days, Raptors fans will quickly look for the match-up vs the Spurs and DeMar DeRozan. But for Christmas and Martin Luther King Day, there’s always next year.
Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)