The schedule for the 2018-2019 NBA season dropped yesterday. The Raptors will be featured in 15 U.S. nationally televised games, not including 11 that will be broadcasted on NBA TV, which is an increase of 10 games from last season. So let’s break down the most anticipated games.
— Yaya Dubin (@JADubin5) August 10, 2018
The first matchup will be against the LeBron-less Cleveland Cavaliers on 17 October. Given the opponent’s obvious shortcomings, this game should start the team off on the right foot. However, we all know that if the Raptors were to lose this game all hell could break loose immediately. This is clearly a game to be excited for, but not necessarily one of the most anticipated games of the season. These are the games that should make that list:
Vs. Celtics, Friday, October 19th at Scotiabank Arena (ESPN)
The Raptors will face their first true test when they face the Boston Celtics at home (game after season opener). The NBA world will indeed tune in to watch the early indications for the Eastern Conference supremacy.
Vs. 76ers, Tuesday, October 30th at Scotiabank Arena (NBA TV)
The 76ers represent the other threat to the conference throne (and division). Like the Celtics game discussed above, this should be amongst the most anticipated games of the early season as the team measures themselves against their up and coming division rivals.
Vs. Warriors, Thursday, November 29th at Scotiabank Arena (TNT)
If the Celtics and 76ers matchups are to provide early indications about the status of the East, then this game against the Warriors should tell us whether or not the Raptors possess a legitimate shot at the NBA title. While the Warriors normally don’t play to their full potential during the regular season, it would be a tremendous confidence booster for the Raptors if they can beat Golden State.
At San Antonio Spurs, Thursday, January 3rd at AT&T Center (TNT)
This will be the first game at Kawhi Leonard’s old stumping grounds. It will be interesting to witness Kawhi’s reactions and emotions (which are typically not displayed) for this game. There is little doubt that his reception will be less than welcoming (given his abrupt departure and last year’s injury drama), and he will experience a healthy dose of boos at the only place he ever called home as a professional NBA player.
Vs. San Antonio Spurs, Friday, February 22nd at Scotiabank Arena (ESPN)
This matchup will provide a different experience for DeMar DeRozan in comparison to Kawhi Leonard’s. The fan reception for DeRozan should be overwhelming as he provided his heart and soul to the franchise and made Toronto his home-away-from-home. Raptors fans should be elated at the prospect of deploying Kawhi Leonard this season in what should be an obvious upgrade for the team, but fans must show DeMar the love he deserves upon his return to Toronto.
There are clearly plenty of matchups to be excited about, ranging from subsequent games against the cream of the crop in the East (Celtics, Sixers, Bucks, Wizards), as well as most teams in the West (Warriors, Rockets, Thunder, Lakers, Jazz). However, these five games should keep us anxiously waiting to find out what the team has to offer this season.