Raptors pre-season games announced: spreading the excitement

Toronto Raptors (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

The Raptors training camp and pre-season schedule is out. Our guys are out west for camp again, then travel the continent for tune-up games.

The Toronto Raptors released their pre-season schedule last week; you can read the entire announcement here. The team will hold its training camp in Vancouver, BC, once again, play a farewell game there, then do some serious travelling.

The Raptors are continuing a pattern which began several years ago, in which the goal appears to be cementing their position as Canada’s Team. A cynic might suggest that fulfilling that role isn’t terribly difficult, as the Raptors are Canada’s Only Team.

That’s undeniable, but there are several benefits which accrue from dropping into our country’s other major cities. One is making clear how popular basketball is in Canada. The games in Vancouver (still smarting about losing its team) and Montreal will be sold out.

2018 Preseason Schedule
2018 Preseason Schedule /

There’s still a faint pulse to the notion of having a second team in Canada. Whether the NBA agrees is a different matter. The league has moved at a snail’s pace to get to 32 franchises. It could have and should have added two more teams years ago. C’mon Adam Silver – Seattle and Montreal are ready to rock.

We can hope that the lively reception Canadian fans provide “their” team will have a positive impact on Kawhi Leonard. Long-service Raptors like DeMar DeRozan have spoken often of additional motivation when they understand they aren’t just representing a city, but an entire nation. Maybe desire for the bright lights of Los Angeles will diminish in Leonard’s mind, replaced by memories of fans in cities he’s never been to prior, cheering wildly while wearing Raptors sweaters with his name on the back.

I’m glad the league switched to a shorter pre-season schedule. The years in which there were four home “exhibition” games (at full ticket price! Former MLSE President Tim Leiweke dusted that scam) will never return.  The league realized the need for more weeks in the regular season, to allow sufficient time for players’ rest and recovery.

An international visit

I note with some befuddlement the fact that Vancouver and Montreal fans will see the Raptors against NBA teams, while Toronto fans get….Melbourne United, from Australia. I visited their website, which I found Down-Under quirky. For example, here’s the first sentence from a write-up of a recent game: Melbourne United hit the court in a behind-closed-doors scratch match against Chinese Taipei on Friday, in their first full hit out of the pre-season. Help needed: what’s a “scratch match” and a “full hit”? And why would you play a game behind closed doors?

Whatever – Australian hoops is on the rise, with the success of Matthew Dellavedova, Joe Ingles, and most prominently, Ben Simmons of the 76ers, the NBA Rookie of the Year. The United roster page names eight (that’s all?) players, none of whom I recognize.

Next. Did Raptors actually need to move DeRozan?. dark

The NBA will release the 2018-19 season schedule later this month. We here at the Rapture, and you, Nation, are waiting with bated breath.