Raptors schedule: As friendly as it gets

CANADA - OCTOBER 22: Basketball - Crests or Logos - Raptors (Photo by Peter Power/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
CANADA - OCTOBER 22: Basketball - Crests or Logos - Raptors (Photo by Peter Power/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /

The Raptors have been victimized by nasty scheduling in recent years. However, that’s not a charge which can be leveled for 2018-19.

Each year, the release of the Toronto Raptors schedule provides an opportunity for either concern or relief. This season’s schedule should produce few complaints from Raptors faithful. Our squad enjoys five home games, compared to one away (an easy flight to Washington), to kick things off. Only the second one, against the presumably at-full-strength Boston Celtics, is a toss-up. The others should provide odds-on W opportunities.

On the flip, Toronto is the visitor for five of the season’s final seven games. Hopefully our playoff position should be nailed down. If not, of the opponents, all but Minnesota are likely to be tanking.

The lengthening of the NBA season, by starting earlier, has had a salutary effect. For the second year in a row, there are no 4-games-in-5-nights for anyone. I didn’t find any 5-games-in-a-week blots for the Raptors, which some teams must still suffer with.

As recently as 2015-16, the Raptors tipped off Game 1 on October 28, and had played 11 by November 15. This year, their first game is October 17, and there will be 15 in the books by November 16 (close enough).

Hard to beef about, except…

A look at the Raptors schedule strength is premature, of course, but fun to do anyway. Our team has one of the NBA’s easiest, at 26th. Toronto plays Atlanta three times; the four with the softest of all have four meetings with the Hawks. [20-second timeout: Atlanta and Sacramento are considered the NBA’s punching bags, an unarguable conclusion. Oddly, while Sac-to has the league’s toughest schedule, Atlanta’s is 11th.]

Every team has to muddle through a few lengthy road trips. Toronto has two in November, both four-gamers. The first takes our guys out west, then in mid-month they are off to Eastern Conference opponents. In total, they have nine away games that month, with six at home.

December is also a six-home, nine-away month. Weird. What isn’t weird, but infuriating, is our non-game on Christmas Day. Here’s the line-up:

  • Milwaukee Bucks at New York Knicks, 12 p.m. ET
  • Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets, 3 p.m. ET
  • Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics, 5:30 p.m. ET
  • Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors, 8 p.m. ET
  • Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz, 10:30 p.m. ET

We are also excluded from the triple-header booked for January 21, which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. While that’s a U.S. and not a Canadian holiday, would it have killed the schedule-makers to book our team as the visitors somewhere?

Warm & cosy in nasty weather

The players can settle in and see their families for much of February. We begin a home stand on the 11th against the Nets, and don’t leave until a visit to Detroit on March 3. The All-Star break is wrapped in there as well.

My colleague Mike Bossetti points out, and it bears repeating: The strangest thing about the schedule’s final chunk is the complete lack of dramatic games against our likely toughest Eastern opponents. The Raptors are done with Boston and Philadelphia before March.

Related Story. Highlights of Raptors 2018-19 schedule. light

In sum, there’s little to complain about with this season’s schedule.