The best part of the NBA schedule being released is the fact that the season is around the corner – well 85 days to be exact. Fans anxiously wait to see when their team is going to play the big ticket teams, how many back to back games there are and if their team will make it onto National TV. I personally prepare an excel sheet (excessive I know) to figure out what games I will be attending and which of my lucky friends will be accompanying me down to the ACC, approximately 35 times this season.
Immediate reactions on viewing the Raptors schedule were positive. The killer west coast swings are shorter than they have been in the past, and though the team has 21 back to back games, they are even balanced over the course of the season. For a breakdown on the schedule check out Arsenalist’s post on Raptors Republic.
If you want to mark off 10 games you do not want to miss, keep reading…
Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors
October 28th 2009 (Home Opener)
Anytime Lebron James is on the playbill, the Raptors automatically become the hottest ticket in town. For this game though, Lebron takes a backseat to the home team. If there is one game you want to try an attend each season it’s this one. Toronto is known to have a good home crowd – at least to start the season (once the team drops 5 in a row, all bets are off). For this one day though, the revamped roster comes out on the court full of hope and energy. Not only is this the home opener but its also a homecoming for former players Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon. Fans had parted ways with Moon last season, but Anthony Parker was a big part of the team and is sure to get a hearty welcome from the oft rowdy crowd.
Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors
November 1st 2009
This time last year everyone would have been talking about the Dwight v/s Bosh match up, but the fans will be focused elsewhere now. With the addition of Vince Carter to the roster, the magic automatically become a rival team in the eyes of Raptor fans. Aside from the return of Vince, this will also be the the first game Hedo Turkoglu plays against his former team. The same team that he helped take all the way to the NBA finals this past season. The teams match up well and many claim the Raptors are built similarly to the Magic which should make for a great game.
Detroit Pistons at Toronto Raptors
November 4th 2009
The Detroit Pistons have been perennial contenders over the last decade up until this past season. After a trade that sent them spiraling, GM Joe Dumars spent the summer retooling and dishing out the big bucks. The Pistons have always been a team that the Raptors struggle against, mostly due to the Rasheed Wallace factor. Now that Sheed has relocated, it should give Bosh more room to do his thing and with the addition of Hedo, the Raptors finally have someone who can guard players like Tayshaun Prince. *BONUS* – The return of fan favorite, Charlie Villanueva.
Toronto Raptors at San Antonio Spurs
November 9th 2009
Just when you thought their window was closing, the San Antonio Spurs resurrect themselves. They team has followed a similar path as the Pistons – with a few more championships to back it up. A team they only see twice a year, the Raptors have had fared well against the Spurs over the past couple of seasons. The off-season brought over Richard Jefferson over to San Antonio and with a healthy Manu, Tony Parker and Duncan this should be a good game to gauge how the Raptors are gelling one week into the season.
Toronto Raptors at Phoenix Suns
November 15th 2009
With the dreaded summer of 2010 fast approaching, this is a significant game that may not garner the attention it used to. Both, Chris Bosh and Amare Stoudamire will possibly be looking to hit the free agent market at the same time. The two players are often compared and many a debate has gone on regarding which player is better or more fit to build a team around. Last season, Amare was injured and the Raptors were going through the motions but this game should be a good measuring stick for Bosh to see where his game is at early in the season.
Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics
November 27th 2009
It is well documented that Chris Bosh has struggled going up against the likes of Garnett and Rasheed Wallace. This year’s Celtic team is a whole new daemon now that both the aforementioned players are on the roster. The two teams played in a few very close games last season- one game where the Rap’s blew a lead that the team never recovered from for the rest of the season. With off-season moves, both teams addressed their weaknesses and as far as divisional games go this match up is always the best.
Toronto Raptors at Miami Heat
December 15th 2009
The Heat are a few years removed from their Championship and boast a completely different roster, but any team with Dwyane Wade is a force to be reckoned with. He came back from injury stronger than ever and will probably build on that this season. Miami is also a possible landing spot for Bosh when talking about free agency next summer. The Heat have done everything to clear up salary for 2010 and a Wade – Bosh union seems more likely than a Lebron – Bosh one. This game also has some Canadian content as the Heat seem to like their Canuck big men.
Los Angeles Lakers at Toronto Raptors
January 24th 2010
The Champs Are Here! The Raptors get their first look at the NBA Champions midway through the season. The Lakers managed to keep their team relatively intact while adding on the likes of Ron Artest to their roster. This team is going to be a force as long as Kobe wants to win. Each time he plays the Raptors, fans have flashbacks to the 81 point night. Kobe doin’ work while the rest of us watch in awe.
Toronto Raptors at New York Knicks
January 28th 2010
Looking at the past few years you are probably wondering why this game made the list? for a couple of reasons to be exact. This is the first time in recent memory the Raptors are playing a game on a Thursday – a night usually kept for marquee matchups to be shown on TNT. This is not saying this game will be covered by them but there is the possibility. The other reason is CB4 in NY. From the day he signed the 3 year deal all the talk was he was going to bolt and the most likely destination would be the big apple. Well this is the 2nd of two games the Raptors play at MSG and possibly the last time with Bosh on their side.
Toronto Raptors at Portland Trailblazers
March 14th 2010
RENEGE-GATE! BANU-GATE! Call it what you want, but Turkoglu bolting from Portland after initially accepting their offer, has to have left a sour taste in the mouth’s of management and fans. Raptor fans went through something similar (albeit a bench player) with John Salmons. Portland fans rival the best in the league and you can be sure they will be fired up for this game. Additionally we once again get to lament as we watch Brandon Roy continue his all-star development and pray that Andrea grabs an extra rebound or two for solace.