When the Toronto Raptors’ 2023-24 schedule was released, many fans were looking across the 82-game ledger as they tried to find two very specific dates; the returns of head coach Nick Nurse and former All-Star point guard Fred VanVleet.
Nurse is now the head coach of Joel Embiid’s Philadelphia 76ers, as Daryl Morey believes that he has a better chance of getting this team over the hump than Doc Rivers did. Taking over one of Toronto’s biggest rivals will make his first game back in Canada must-see TV.
VanVleet signed a three-year max contract with the Houston Rockets, leaving Toronto with nothing despite knowing about his potential to leave town. VanVleet’s play last year polarized the fanbase, even with his years of excellent service in Raptors red. Both Nurse and VanVleet will light up Scotiabank Arena upon their return, and those dates in question have been finalized.
Nurse and the 76ers will come to Toronto on October 28, making the grand return for just the third game of the season for the Raptors and their second home game. VanVleet will tussle with the Raptors in Houston on February 2 before making his Canadian return on February 9.
Toronto Raptors 2023-24 schedule. Nick Nurse, Fred VanVleet returns confirmed
Nurse and VanVleet didn’t leave under 100% perfect terms. Nurse all but certainly contributed to the erosion of the team’s vibes last season, while VanVleet had a very disappointing season marred by poor efficiency as a shooter and willingness to shoot from anywhere on the court.
VanVleet is joining a very young Rockets team with eyes on ascending to the ranks of the postseason regulars under Ime Udoka. Nurse, meanwhile, is in charge of a 76ers team that is currently navigating a very difficult trade request from star point guard James Harden.
The Raptors will likely be favored against the Rockets, barring an unforeseen jump in performance that has them playing well above their station. Philly might be a different situation, as the excellent play of Embiid and Raptors nemesis Tyrese Maxey is going to be difficult to stop.
After Nurse made this Raptors team a champion and VanVleet cemented his legacy as arguably the greatest undrafted guard in NBA history, both of them are starting fresh in 2023. Time will tell if they can rub it in Masai Ujiri’s face, or if they will eat a slice of humble pie while being given a tough loss.