The countdown to the 2023-24 NBA season is officially on. The Toronto Raptors’ full schedule has been released and fans can begin circling the games they’re most excited to watch.
The Raptors enter the new season with a lot of uncertainty. Despite losing their All-Star guard Fred VanVleet in free agency to the Houston Rockets, Toronto still hasn’t committed to a direction.
They seem content with their current roster and are hoping players like Scottie Barnes can take that next step.
Furthermore, here are the games that will be watched closely.
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Toronto Raptors – Wednesday, October 25
The Raptors kickoff their season at home against a hungry Minnesota Timberwolves team.
Fans will get their first look at the Raptors under first-year head coach Darko Rajakovic. Newcomers Dennis Schroder, Jalen Mcdaniels and rookie Gradey Dick will officially make their Raptors debut.
Also, Point Scottie might make his debut as well. It’s still unclear what the Raptors starting lineup will be but there has been a lot of speculation that Scottie Barnes could run the point.
Nonetheless, the Raptors will have an opportunity to set the tone early here.
Philadelphia 76ers @ Toronto Raptors – Saturday, October 28
In the Raptors’ third game of the season they will see a familiar face. Former Raptors head coach Nick Nurse makes his return to Toronto.
Nick Nurse was fired by the Raptors on Apr. 21. However, it didn’t take long for Nurse to receive another head coaching opportunity as the Philadelphia 76ers hired him on May 29.
Nick Nurse coaching Philadelphia will add a new chapter to this 76ers vs Raptors storied rivalry.
The biggest question for this matchup is will James Harden still be on the 76ers? There’s been a lot of drama lately surrounding the former MVP and 76ers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey.
The Raptors could take advantage of the situation and beat their old coach on their home court.
Boston Celtics @ Toronto Raptors – Friday, November 17
The Raptors will officially begin their In-Season Tournament schedule with a matchup against the Boston Celtics.
Raptors vs Celtics games are always intense and this being an In-Season Tournament game will only add to the buzz.
This will be a true measuring stick game for the Raptors to see how they stack up in the East in the early part of the season.
Chicago Bulls @ Toronto Raptors – Friday, November 24
DeMar DeRozan and the Chicago Bulls arrive in Toronto on Nov. 24 for the first time since knocking the Raptors out of the Play-In Tournament last season.
The Raptors blew a 19-point lead and missed 18 free throws while Diar DeRozan terrorized them from the stands.
The Raptors have a chance to get some revenge over the Bulls in this spot.
Denver Nuggets @ Toronto Raptors – Wednesday, December 20
The Raptors welcome the defending NBA Champion Denver Nuggets to town just a few days before Christmas.
Kitchener’s finest Jamal Murray will return home to play in front of friends and family, while Nikola Jokic will probably be in the mists of another MVP-type season.
This is an opportunity for the Raptors to beat the defending champions and make a statement before the new year.
Miami Heat @ Toronto Raptors – Wednesday, January 17
Kyle Lowry and the Miami Heat visit Toronto in mid January. Whenever the GOAT Raptor returns to Toronto it’s always special.
The Raptors had their way with the reigning Eastern Conference champions last season winning the season series 3-1.
Los Angeles Clippers @ Toronto Raptors – Friday, January 26
Another former Raptors legend visits Scotiabank Arena just over a week later. Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers are always a fun matchup.
The biggest thing to look out for in this game is whether or not Kawhi Leonard will actually play. Kawhi Leonard has battled many injuries since leaving Toronto in 2019 and is no stranger to load management.
If Kawhi Leonard does play, it’ll be exciting to watch him do battle against some of his former teammates OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam.
Houston Rockets @ Toronto Raptors – Friday, February 9
This is the game every Raptors fan will have circled on their calendar. Fred VanVleet makes his highly anticipated return to the city that watched him go from undrafted player to NBA Champion and NBA All-Star.
Fred VanVleet’s return to Toronto will be quite the scene. VanVleet left the Raptors in free agency and signed a lucrative three-year, $130 million max deal with the Houston Rockets.
VanVleet leaves the Raptors as one of the best players to ever play for the franchise. Expect emotions to be high and the competition to be fierce for this one.
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Toronto Raptors – Friday, March 22
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder come to Toronto in the spring.
The Hamilton native was playing like an MVP candidate last season helping OKC take a huge leap.
This matchup will also feature fellow Canadian Lu Dort who is a Montreal native just like Chris Boucher.
The Thunder are expected to be a dangerous team this season and one the Raptors can’t take lightly anymore.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Toronto Raptors – Tuesday, April 2
Fans have to wait all the way until the near end of the season to see LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers up-close.
LeBron James has created so many memories and moments in Toronto, most of which Raptors fans want to forget.
LeBron James is entering year 21 and turns 39-years-old this season as Father Time is starting to creep up. This could potentially be LeBron’s final appearance in Toronto so that makes this matchup even more compelling.
Expectations for Raptors season
This is a season that could go either way for the Raptors.
They could either fly under the radar and exceed all expectations or be heading towards another subpar season.
Nonetheless, enjoy what’s sure to be another rollercoaster of a year.
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