The last time that the Toronto Raptors played was game seven in the second round of the 2020 NBA playoffs against the Boston Celtics on Sept. 11. The Raptors lost the game 92-87 and were eliminated from the playoffs thus ending their 2019-20 season.
The Toronto Raptors are set to play their first game of the 2020-21 NBA season on Dec. 23 against the New Orleans Pelicans.
This NBA season is quite different than any other season in the league’s 75-year history. Usually, there would be fans attending the games in Toronto or the 29 teams in the league. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, that will not be the case as there would be limited to no fans in games during the first half of the NBA’s 75th season.
What’s different for the Raptors than the other teams in the league is that due to the Canada–United States border closure. The Raptors are not allowed to play their home games in Toronto at the Scotiabank Arena. Instead, they would have to currently play their home games at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.
Despite losing Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol in free agency, Toronto still has their core members of Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Norman Powell, and Pascal Siakam. This team can finish the season anywhere between the third seed to the sixth seed in the eastern conference despite the American media not putting enough attention on the Raptors.
But first, they have to play this season and win games before they prove to everyone that they are still good.
With that being said, here are five games to look forward to during the first half of the season. This list is not necessarily about the five best games to watch. It is about the importance of the game and how entertaining, storyline-wise, the game could be whether they win or lose.
5. The Milwaukee Bucks
This has more to do with 2021 offseason implications than the regular season. Bucks franchise player Giannis Antetokounmpo is set to be a free agent this offseason unless he signs the supermax extension to stay with the Bucks before the Dec.21 deadline.
It is no secret that the Raptors are interested in Antetokounmpo. They are saving up cap space for a chance to sign him in 2021. Both teams are set to face each other three times during the first half of the season. The game that should be important for the Raptors and their fans is the Feb. 18 game in Milwaukee.
This game is the last meeting of the two teams unless they play each other during the second half of the season which is unlikely.
This is a recruiting process for the Raptors to lure Antetokounmpo away from the Bucks. If Toronto plays well, Antetokounmpo might be so impressed that would like to join the team.