The Toronto Raptors begin their 27th NBA season when they host the Washington Wizards at Scotiabank Arena on October 20 for what will be one of the most memorable home-openers in Raptors franchise history. This Raptors home opener has extra significance.
Exactly 600 days will have elapsed since the last NBA regular-season game in Toronto, a 99-96 Raptors loss to the Charlotte Hornets on February 28, 2020.
The world has changed a lot since then, and so too have the Raptors. Kyle Lowry is gone, so too is Norman Powell. Due to a Fred VanVleet absence against Charlotte, OG Anunoby is the only player on the roster who was on the court for the Raptors that night that will be in the lineup against Washington.
Last season, while the rest of the NBA’s teams had returned to their cities, the Raptors were playing home games at Amalie Arena in Tampa. Toronto’s loyal fans could only look on from a country away, wondering when they would next see their heroes in person.
Suffice to say, it will be very emotional inside Scotiabank Arena, where the Raptors can welcome a crowd of full capacity on a special night that is one year, seven months, three weeks, and one day in the making.
This home opener will surely be remembered alongside these 3 famous games in the annals of Raptors history.
These 3 Toronto Raptors games are the best home-openers
3. October 31, 2008, vs. Golden State Warriors
This is the first time a Raptors home-opener went to overtime, with Toronto defeating the Warriors 112-108 on Halloween night at the Air Canada Centre before a sellout crowd of 19,800. The game packed plenty of excitement, featuring 12 ties and 21 lead changes, along with a comeback at the end of regulation.
After trailing by five late, Toronto pulled even on a pair of free throws from all-star Chris Bosh with 14.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Both teams missed potential game-winning shots and regulation time expired with the score knotted at 96-96. The Raptors opened overtime on a 10-2 run, and never trailed during the extra session.
Bosh, who at this point was the face of the franchise and the toast of Toronto, began the night by addressing the crowd, thanking Raptors fans for their support. The future Hall-of-Famer then went out and scored a game-high 31 points while hauling down a team-best 9 boards.
Chris Bosh led the Toronto Raptors to a home opener win in 2008.
Other notable Raptors who stepped up included Andrea Bargnani (19 points, three blocks), Jose Calderon (16 points, 13 assists), and Anthony Parker (23 points, four steals). The Warriors were led by Al Harrington (26 points, 11 rebounds) and Andris Biedrins (17 points, 13 rebounds).
With the victory, Toronto improved to 2-0, but wins came far less often the rest of the 2008-09 season for the Raptors, who finished 33-49. Toronto missed the playoffs for the first time in three years, and wouldn’t return to the postseason until 2014, long after Bosh had made the move to South Beach.