Over eight months after playing their last official game, the Toronto Raptors will hit the court on Monday night to open the 66-game 2011-2012 season in Cleveland.

It will be a battle of two teams expected to finish at the bottom of the Eastern Conference by most analysts and prognosticators. Should the Raptors beat the Cavs on opening night? That’s one of the questions I’m here to answer, as I’ll predict the outcome of all 66 Raptors games this season, eventually leading to my prediction of Toronto’s final record and where they’ll finish in the Eastern Conference.

At the end of this post, you can also find RaptorBlog founder and editor Scott Carefoot’s predictions for this season’s Raptors, as well as the predictions of Tas Melas and J.E. Skeets of The Basketball Jones, and theScore’s Glenn Schiiler, who covers the team.

Make no mistake, I am fully aware that predicting the outcome of every game on a team’s schedule is a daunting task that has been attempted and failed by many ambitious ones before me, but I figure it will be pretty easy in a season where most are expecting the Raptors to lose three quarters of their games anyway.

Predicting the season on a game by game basis will allow me to revisit these predictions from time to time and will make it easier to determine whether or not the team is over-achieving, under-achieving or playing right around the level I expected at various points in the season.

I tried to make it as realistic as possible, including looking at the opponents’ schedules in and around the dates they play the Raptors and even giving the Raps a couple of upset wins here and there. Looking back on it, I probably gave this team way too much credit at home, but at the end of the day, it’s not like I picked them to win enough to contend for a playoff spot.

Here is what I came up with. Enjoy.

Dec. 26 @ Cleveland – W

Dec. 28 vs. Pacers – L

Dec. 30 @ Dallas – L

December Record: 1-2

Jan. 1 @ Orlando – L

Jan. 2 @ New York – L

Jan. 4 vs. Cavaliers – W

Jan. 6 vs. Nets – L

Jan. 7 @ Philadelphia – L

Jan. 9 vs. Timberwolves – L

Jan. 10 @ Washington – W

Jan. 11 vs. Kings – L

Jan. 13 vs. Pacers – L

Jan. 14 @ Chicago – L

Jan. 16 @ Atlanta – L

Jan. 18 @ Boston – L

Jan. 20 vs. Trail Blazers – W

Jan. 22 @ LA Clippers – L

Jan. 24 @ Phoenix – L

Jan. 25 @ Utah – L

Jan. 27 @ Denver – L

Jan. 29 @ New Jersey – L

Jan. 31 vs. Hawks – W

January Record: 4-15

Feb. 1 @ Boston – L

Feb. 3 vs. Wizards – W

Feb. 5 @ Miami – L

Feb. 6 @ Washington – L

Feb. 8 vs. Bucks – W

Feb. 10 vs. Celtics – L

Feb. 12 vs. Lakers – L

Feb. 14 vs. Knicks – L

Feb. 15 vs. Spurs – L

Feb. 17 vs. Bobcats – W

Feb. 22 vs. Pistons – W

Feb. 28 @ Houston – L

Feb. 29 @ New Orleans – L

February Record: 4-9

Mar. 2 vs. Grizzlies – L

Mar. 4 vs. Warriors – W

Mar. 5 vs. Magic – L

Mar. 7 vs. Rockets – L

Mar. 10 @ Detroit – W

Mar. 11 vs. Bucks – L

Mar. 13 @ Cleveland – L

Mar. 14 @ New Jersey – L

Mar. 16 @ Memphis – L

Mar. 17 @ Charlotte – W

Mar. 20 @ New York – L

Mar. 21 vs. Bulls – L

Mar. 23 vs. Knicks – L

Mar. 24 @ Chicago – L

Mar. 26 vs. Magic – W

Mar. 28 vs. Nuggets – L

Mar. 30 vs. Heat – L

March Record: 4-13

Apr. 1 vs. Wizards – W

Apr. 3 vs. Bobcats – W

Apr. 4 @ Philadelphia – L

Apr. 6 vs. Cavaliers – W

Apr. 8 @ Oklahoma City -L

Apr. 9 @ Indiana – L

Apr. 11 vs. 76ers – W

Apr. 13 vs. Celtics – W

Apr. 15 @ Atlanta – L

Apr. 16 vs. Hawks – L

Apr. 18 @ Miami – L

Apr. 22 @ Detroit – W

Apr. 23 @ Milwaukee – L

Apr. 26 vs. Nets – W

April Record: 7-7


Home Record: 15-18

Road Record: 5-28

Overall Record: 20-46

Predicted Finish: Fifth in Atlantic, 13th in East, 27th overall

I came into this post, without looking at the schedule, saying that the Raptors would win about 18 games, so coming up with 20 after going through all 66 games actually makes me feel confident (as confident as one can be with pre-season predictions) about these predictions.

As for the rest of the guys, here are there predictions:

Scott Carefoot: 16-50 (29th overall)

(Scott’s write-up on the Raptors can be found in The Basketball Jones prediction countdown.)

Tas Melas: 15-51

Glenn Schiiler: 19-47 (12th in East)

J.E. Skeets: 14-52 (15th or 14th in the East)

That makes a consensus prediction of 16.8 wins and a 12th-to-15th finish in the East. Nothing surprising here.

As I’ve written recently, the best thing for the team’s long-term prospects would be for young players such as DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis to solidify their places as future building blocks this season, while still losing enough games to get a top-five draft pick in a loaded 2012 class.

If the Raptors head into the off-season with an improved defensive philosophy, established young starters in DeRozan and Davis, Jonas Valanciunas in their pocket, $10-20 million in cap space and a top-five pick in the 2012 Draft, I will be more excited and hopeful for the future of this franchise than I have been in a decade.

We’ve made our predictions, now let us know what you think of them. Share your thoughts on what you’ve read and how you think the Raptors will fare this season.

It’s been a productive week here at RaptorBlog. Thanks to all for reading and sharing feedback this week, and don’t forget to ‘like’ our RaptorBlog facebook page. Barring anything crazy going down, this will probably be the last time we chat before the season begins.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. And in one way or another, whether you’re cheering for over-achievement or just waiting for the Draft Lottery in May, Let’s Go Raptors.