The 2021-22 Toronto Raptors schedule has officially been released, as Nick Nurse, Masai Ujiri, and the rest of this bunch will look to put their nightmarish 2020-21 season firmly in the rear-view mirror as they try to reboot and get back to the postseason.
With a revamped roster, the Raptors’ fanbase will get their first look at the team in the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto for the first time since early 2020. That reunion will take place on October 20 against the Washington Wizards.
Provided the US-Canada border is open and pending COVID-19 protocols, the expectations are for a packed house and a raucous crowd willing the Raptors to an opening night victory.
But, now that we know the schedule, here are three early-season contests that could be a harbinger of things to come for the Raptors in 2021-22, or just some particularly dramatic entertainment. We know the five best matchups already, but these three have an extra layer of intrigue.
3 most intriguing Toronto Raptors matchups in 2021-22.
3. Cavaliers vs Raptors, November 5.
This game will be a solid test of the Raptors’ philosophy of wingspan against actual height and size. The Cavaliers drafted right before the Raptors at No. 3 in the 2021 Draft selected 7-0 foot center Evan Mobley from USC.
He joins a roster that, during free agency, also re-signed RFA Jarrett Allen, who is 6-11 and weighs 243 pounds. The Cavs’ may have their version of the twin towers vs. Toronto’s athletic, long big men.
The Raptors were horrible in 2021 at rebounding, scoring points in the paint, ranking 28th and 26th, respectively. As for Cleveland, before Mobley’s arrival, they ranked No. 18 in total rebounding and No. 6 at scoring points in the paint. The Raptors could be in for tough sledding against two actual bigs who can rebound.
Allen averaged 10 rebounds per game in 2021 between Brooklyn and Cleveland, and Mobley came out of college averaging 8.7 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game. The Raptors will need Khem Birch, Precious Achiuwa, Scottie Barnes, and Chris Boucher to focus on rebounding.
Scottie Barnes vs. Evan Mobley could make for an entertaining Raptors game.
A huge draw to this game though will be Barnes vs. Mobley Barnes is most likely to come off of the Toronto bench, but he’ll see a hefty dose of minutes down in the paint against Mobley, who could start his career as a power forward, if Pascal Siakam is still injured.
It’s the third pick in 2021 vs. the fourth, with some intrigue as to which will have a bigger impact on the game. Whatever role Barnes plays in this game must include crashing the defensive boards to help keep Mobley and Allen in check.
Last year, Toronto won two out of three contests vs. the Cavs. They are 46-50 all-time against Cleveland.