This past NBA season, the Toronto Raptors were forced to play their home games in Tampa, Florida for the entirety of the season. Due to the travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Scotiabank Arena hasn’t been home to a Raptors game in over a year. But, fortunately, it seems as though the Toronto Raptors will likely be able to return to Canada for the upcoming NBA season, which commences on October 19th.
For the Toronto Raptors, it was evident that playing in a different country took a toll on them this past season, and their record showed that. On the season, they finished with a record of 27 – 45 and missed the playoffs for the first time in eight years. Given the circumstances of the season, it was at least somewhat understandable. For the entirety of the NBA season, they essentially didn’t even play one single “home” game, which is definitely something that contributed to their disappointing record, along with the COVID-19 outbreak and the multitude of injuries to their squad throughout the season.
In Ontario, which is the province that is home to the venue where the Toronto Raptors play, Scotiabank Arena, the first-dose adult vaccination rate has been hovering around 80% and is set to steadily increase in the near future. This is a great sign for the potential return of the Toronto Raptors, as both Canada and Ontario are effectively dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is something that the NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, has acknowledged, and it seems as though he is optimistic about the Toronto Raptors being able to finally return to Scotiabank Arena in October. In his recent NBA Finals media availability, Silver was asked about the possibility of the Toronto Raptors being able to return to play at Scotiabank Arena next NBA season, and said, “we are hopeful the team will be back if things continue as we’re seeing in Canada right now.”
Although this quote from Adam Silver doesn’t offer assurance that the Toronto Raptors will be able to for sure play their home games in Toronto next season, it does provide fans with some great optimism, and for the Toronto Raptors themselves, a return to home would definitely help their on-court performance in the long run.
Although, as of right now, the most important news for Toronto Raptors fans to follow is that Toronto FC is set to return home to play at BMO Field on July 17th, and the Toronto Blue Jays are also set to follow suit by returning home to play at Rogers Centre at the end of the month. According to a senior executive for the Toronto Blue Jays from an interview with the Toronto Sun, “the momentum of a return to Toronto is very positive.”
The return of both Toronto FC and the Toronto Blue Jays will be massive tests for the Ontario government and their ongoing reopening of the province.
If everything goes to plan with the return of both Toronto FC and the Toronto Blue Jays, there is no reason why the Toronto Raptors won’t be able to follow suit and also make a return to Toronto in October, barring any extenuating circumstances with the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario and Canada.
At the end of the day, even though nothing is finalized as of yet, we, as fans of the Toronto Raptors, should be hopeful that our team will be able to return home this upcoming NBA season. With Toronto FC and the Toronto Blue Jays on the verge of seemingly making it back home to Canada to play on their respective stomping grounds, there is a good chance that the Toronto Raptors should be able to do the same come October.