Article Written by Jacob Pacheco (@JacobPacheco6)
Upon the NBA releasing the full 82 game season schedule today, the most anticipated match-up that all of Toronto was waiting for was when the San Antonio Spurs would come to town with All-Star DeMar DeRozan, thereby making his return to Toronto. After playing his final game with the Raptors in Game 4 of the 2018 playoffs vs the Cleveland Cavaliers, DeRozan picked up a questionable Flagrant 2 foul late in the fourth quarter, leading to an ejection in a blowout elimination game with just two minutes remaining. Nobody knew that that game was going to be DeRozan’s final game in a Raptors uniform.
Today, Raptors fans have found out that DeMar DeRozan’s first game in Toronto in a San Antonio Spurs uniform will take place on February 22, 2019. After DeRozan’s nine-year career in the NBA and playing against every other team, this will be his first game against Toronto. DeRozan isn’t the only All-Star set to make a home-coming appearance against their former team(s) this upcoming season. It was also announced that newly acquired All-Star Kawhi Leonard will make his return to San Antonio on January 3, 2019 with the Raptors.
Outside of the DeRozan/Leonard fiasco, it was also announced that the Raptors will open up their season - not against the Boston Celtics - but the Cleveland Cavaliers at home on October 17, 2018. The Raptors will play their first 6 out of 8 games at home to start the season and will head out on an early 4 game Western road trip right after that from November 2nd-7th. Although Toronto opens up their season with a match-up vs the Cavaliers, there’s something missing. Ah, LeBron James. Toronto won’t have to wait long to get a first look at The King in his new threads, facing off vs the Lakers on Nov 4th. The Raptors will once again see King James and the Lakers, this time at home on March 14th 2019.
Another big circle on the calendar this season comes on Nov 14th. On this day, the return of former head coach and Coach of The Year Award winner, Dwane Casey, to Toronto as new and current head coach of the Detroit Pistons. November seems to be a big month for Toronto as another big match-up and must-see game comes near the end of the month, when the defending NBA champions in the Golden State Warriors come to town on Nov 29th.
The Raptors longest home stand comes in the new year of 2019 in February from the 11th to March 1st. It may seem long, but it’s only a 6 game home-stand due to the All-Star break. Toronto will also have two-4 game Western road trips throughout the season - one in November and another in December from the 11th to the 16th. The Raptors will also have a game on New Year’s Day 2019 at home against the Utah Jazz.
The Raptors final home game of the 2018-19 season will be against the Miami Heat on April 7th at 12 p.m. and will finish off the season on the road - surprisingly - against the Minnesota Timberwolves at 8 p.m. on April 9th.
The NBA has also released all the games that will be televised nationally. For the second time in franchise history, the Raptors will have 15 games nationally televised throughout the season; the first time was back in the 2000-01 season. The most Toronto has ever had in a season was in 2001-02, with 17 nationally televised games.
Toronto will have eight games on ESPN and seven games on TNT. This is also without including the games on NBA TV. Many fans felt a lack of respect from the NBA for not giving Toronto a Christmas Day game, which was announced just over 48 hours ago. But this will have to do. Given that Toronto only getting five nationally televised games last season on both ESPN and TNT, tripling that this season is a great sign.
It won’t be too long before the Raptors are out on the court again. Upon the NBA releasing this schedule, it means there’s only two more months until fans get to enjoy basketball again. Raptors fans will get their first look at Toronto Raptors basketball on September 29th, in pre-season action as the team takes on the Trail Blazers in Vancouver. Although it’s only pre-season, we could see our first look at All-Star Kawhi Leonard sometime throughout, which includes six-games. It’s also our first look at new coach Nick Nurse and his experimentation with the possibility of lineups he could use throughout the season.
Stay tuned, Toronto. Raptors' basketball is just around the corner.
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