The Raptors released their 2013-14 schedule on Tuesday evening, beginning with a home date against the Celtics on October 30 and concluding with a matchup against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on April 16.
With that, here’s a look at some of the more notable games on Toronto’s schedule…
Wednesday, October 30 vs. Celtics – The Raptors will open the 19th season in franchise history against the suddenly dismantled Celtics.
Tuesday, November 5 vs. Heat – The Raptors will welcome the Heat to town for their first matchup of the season against the two-time defending NBA champions, giving Toronto another chance to grab its first win against Miami in The Big Three Era.
Friday, November 8 @ Indiana – Matchups against the Pacers have been among the most compelling Raptors games over the last couple of years, and last season’s 2-2 split of the season series, where the road team won all four games, was no exception. With Tyler Hansbrough and D.J. Augustin now plying their trade north of the border, the matchups could be even more intense this time around. The Raptors and Pacers will also meet on January 1 and April 4.
Monday, November 11 @ Houston – I’m not sure if they’ll contend for a title immediately, but if Dwight Howard is healthy, the Howard/Harden combination should be as formidable as almost any duo in the league. In addition, Kyle Lowry will probably be gunning for a better return to Houston than he enjoyed last season.
Wednesday, November 13 @ Memphis – While the Raptors did host the Grizzlies after the Rudy Gay trade last season, this will mark Gay’s first trip back to Memphis. The Grindhouse should be rocking with emotion, and if last year’s post-trade matchup in T.O. was any indication, it should be a good one.
Tuesday, November 26 vs. Nets – The Raptors and Toronto basketball fans will get their first glimpse at the new-look Nets, which if healthy, should feature Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, Andrei Kirilenko, Jason Terry, Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche.
Friday, December 27 @ New York – Andrea Bargnani will face the Raptors for the first time, while Steve Novak will look to discount-double-check all over his old stomping grounds at The Garden.
Saturday, December 28 vs. Knicks – In the second half of a back-to-back home-and-home set, Bargnani will mark his return to the Air Canada Centre, giving Raptors fans the chance to remind The Enigma Of All Enigmas how they feel about him.
Sunday, January 19 vs. Lakers – The Lakers may very well be a lottery team this season, but Kobe Bryant’s annual trek north for a Sunday matinee in Toronto is always a worthy mention on this list.
Wednesday, January 22 vs. Mavericks – When Raptors fans welcome Vince Carter back to town this time around, he’ll have Jose Calderon as a teammate. That should make for an interesting and drastic contrast in receptions. Though perhaps Calderon can help cool the tensions between the two parties. I mean if anyone can, it’s probably Jose, right?
Friday, January 31 @ Denver – I know Masai Ujiri doesn’t actually take the court to make an impact in the game itself, but you have to figure something will be made of the Raptors’ only visit to Denver this season with all that played out.
Wednesday, April 16 @ New York – The regular season finale. Will it be another meaningless contest to close out another lost season for the Raptors? Will game no. 82 actually hold meaning for Toronto in their bid to end a six-year playoff drought? Will the season’s final night be a mere warmup act for a Raptors team that’s already clinched a playoff spot?
And now for some further notes on the schedule, courtesy of the Raptors’ official press release.
-The Raptors’ longest homestand is a four-gamer from November 22-December 1 that includes games against the Wizards, Nets, Heat and Nuggets.
- The team’s longest road trip lasts five games, from January 31-February 7, and runs through Denver, Portland, Utah, Sacramento and Los Angeles (Clippers).
- The Raptors will play 18 sets of back-to-backs. 11 of those 18 sets will feature one home game and one road game, with the other seven being all-road back-to-backs. The Raptors don’t play any all-home back-to-backs this season.
Games By Month
October/November: 15 (8 home, 7 away)
December: 14 (5 home, 9 away)
January: 17 (9 home, 8 away)
February: 12 (6 home, 6 away)
March: 16 (8 home, 8 away)
April: 8 (5 home, 3 away)
Games By Day
Monday: 10 (3 home, 7 away)
Tuesday: 10 (3 home, 7 away)
Wednesday: 19 (11 home, 8 away)
Thursday: 1 (1 home, 0 away)
Friday: 21 (12 home, 9 away)
Saturday: 8 (4 home, 4 away)
Sunday: 13 (7 home, 6 away)
How a team starts a season is always crucial, but for a team that could veer off in two completely different directions, it’s all the more important for Masai Ujiri and co. to get a read on their team.
Another poor start out of the gates that buries the team early, as happened last season, would make it a lot easier for Ujiri to make moves that will help the team take a strategic step back (my fancy way of describing tanking), while a strong start that has the Raptors in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race could be enough to keep this roster together, at least for the short-term.
Having said that, when I looked at last year’s schedule upon its release, I thought the Raptors could realistically expect to start the season 8-15 through a tough 23-game stretch to open the season (they ended up starting 4-19). This season, while I wouldn’t call the schedule favourable, I will say that this team should be in and around the .500 mark heading into the New Year.
If that’s the case, it will be a lot tougher for Ujiri to chart an immediate direction for this team.