Toronto Raptors face exciting December with a Christmas game and Kawhi Leonard’s return

Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Norman Powell (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

First Time Foes

The Raptors will be facing eight teams for the first time this December. They start by seeing the Utah Jazz on December 1st. Donovan Mitchell is having a nice start to the season and Bojan Bogdanovic has also looked impressive to start. Head coach Nick Nurse is sure to throw different matchups Mitchell’s and Bogdanovic’s way and stick with whichever one is the most effective.

The Raptors’ perimeter defense will also face off against James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat. Harden has looked unstoppable, scoring in bunches once again this season with a league-high 37.7 points per game. Butler is leading a sneaky good Miami team who currently sits right behind the Raptors in the standings. He’s gotten off to a slow shooting start, but he’s still a tough matchup in other ways.

Toronto will also say hello to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder. All four teams enter the month of December on the fringe of the playoff picture or out of it completely.

The Nets matchup on December 14 is the most intriguing of the four. Kyrie Irving should be able to play that game, although any setback could keep him out of the contest. Brooklyn’s Spencer Dinwiddie has been impressive in recent games and should be someone the Raptors gameplan for going into that matchup. Brooklyn’s record looks average, but since Irving went down, they are 6-2. No matter if Irving plays or not, Toronto should come into this game ready for an intense battle. The Raptors will see the in-division rival three more times after this initial meeting.

The Raptors won’t have faced everyone in the league by the end of the month, but they will have seen a considerable amount. After facing 80-percent of the league, it’s easier to make an honest assessment of the current state of the team.

What helps is that the Raptors will have the home-field advantage in the majority of these contests.