Breaking Down the Toronto Raptors' 2012-13 NBA Schedule

The Raptors are going to need a big season from the likes of Terrence Ross to help them make the dance.



On Thursday night the NBA released the 2012-13 regular season schedule. This Saturday morning, RaptorsHQ takes a look at how Toronto might fare in it, based on a month-by-month view...

Last year when the NBA released its compressed schedule for the 2011-12 season, we gave it a once over.

We gave it a once over and tried to guesstimate the team's win total, simply based on said schedule, and how various match-ups looked on paper.

It was about as unscientific an exercise as one could imagine but we nearly nailed the club's win total despite a lack of beakers and test tubes.

Our final guess was 21 wins based on strength of schedule and various other factors, and minus two surprise wins late in the season over Boston and Philly, we might have been bang on.

So while we'll of course take more scientific approaches as we draw closer to the start of the 2012-13 season, we thought we'd repeat last year's exercise, and again present a month-by-month look at how Toronto may fare this coming season, based on the schedule.

October

Happy Hallowe'en!

The Raptors one game in October indeed falls on the month's very last day as the club opens their schedule at home against the Indiana Pacers.

I'm all for the momentum of a Raptors' home crowd, but think the Pacers will end up in the win column after this one, so unfortunately I'm thinking the 2012-13 season gets off on the wrong foot.

Record prediction for October- 0 and 1.


November

November starts with a bang as the Raps head to the Nets' new home in Brooklyn for a match against the very new-look New Yorkers. Things don't get much easier after that as 10 of the club's 15 matches this month are against clubs that made the playoffs last season, and matches against clubs like Detroit and Charlotte are being played away from the ACC.

Considering head coach Dwane Casey will still probably be working through rotations and adjusting to his new personnel, I'm not looking at November as being a highly successful one in terms of wins, but hopefully the Raps new talent can keep them afloat.

Record prediction for November- 5 and 11.


December

December kicks off with a nice little five-game west-coast swing against the Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz, LA Clippers and Portland Trailblazers.

And to me, this could very well be the key to the season.

If the Raps are indeed entering the month five or six games below .500, this road trip could go a long ways in determining whether the club makes the playoffs or not. It may sound ridiculous but remember how terrible this club has been on lengthy Western Conference road trips the past few seasons. Last year the Raps grabbed a few surprising wins in Utah and Phoenix on their biggest jaunt, but that was more of the exception than the rule. In the past in fact the club has been more likely to see an early loss or two on such a trip, snowball into a complete sweep and if that happens, the Dinos could find themselves in too big a hole to climb themselves out of in terms of the playoff picture.

And to compound matters, after the Western swing, the Raps go home but face Brooklyn, Dallas and Houston.

This stretch could be a killer, and the month ends with another road swing, a three-game one versus San Antonio, New Orleans and Orlando.

So much for a Merry Christmas.

Record prediction for December- 5 and 9.

January

The tide turns a bit in the Raptors' favour this month.

Six straight home games to start Jan, including matches against clubs like Sacramento, Charlotte and Milwaukee.

The Raptors also face the Chicago Bulls in the middle of the month, and with the Bulls likely being minus one Derrick Rose, that bodes well too.

The second half of the month gets tougher on paper, as the Lakers come to down, and Toronto heads off to Miami and Orlando to face the Heat and Magic.

Record prediction for January- 9 and 6.

February

19 and 27.

In this exercise, that's what the Raptors' record is to start the month of February. It's hard to say where the other Eastern Conference clubs will be record-wise, but if indeed Toronto is this far back, they've got a lot of work to do to make up ground.

Unfortunately to start the month the club faces the murderer's row of the Clippers, Heat, Celtics and Pacers and while the bulk of those are at home, the club will need to pull off a few upsets to keep pace.

The All-Star break means that there are only 12 games this month for Toronto, and while there appear to be easier ones (on paper at least) later in Feb, again, those first four matches are key to what could be Toronto's slim playoff hopes.

Record prediction for February- 5 and 7.

March

In the past, March and April have traditionally been "home-heavy" months for the Raps as their schedule is typically front-loaded with away games.

But this year things are different, with nine of the club's 15 games away from the friendly confines of the ACC.

As well, a strange four-game road trip, starting in Milwaukee and ending in Los Angeles against the Lake Show makes for some tough prognostication.

However on paper, this is definitely the weakest month in terms of the level of competition the Dinos will be facing, with only seven of the 15 games being against clubs that made last year's playoffs.

Oh...and two matches against the Bobcats don't hurt either.

If the Raps want to make a final playoff push, this is the month to do it.

Record prediction for March- 8 and 7.

April

If the club's record follows my prognostications to any degree, it will be heading into the final month of the season with a record of 32 and 41.

This would represent an improvement already over the previous year percentage-wise, but it's a mark that still likely has the Dinos sitting on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, looking in.

However Toronto's final nine matches are promising.

April begins with two winnable games against Detroit and Washington and even the next two against Minnesota and Milwaukee look like potential W's.

Unfortunately the Raps' play the Bulls twice after that in a home-and-home affair, and with Derrick Rose back in tow and Chicago potentially fighting to make the Dance, these look like tough gets.

As for the final trio of matches, they could go either way. On one hand, Brooklyn, Atlanta and Boston don't exactly appear to be easy wins. Even the Hawks, minus Joe Johnson, can put up a good fight, and the other two should be battling it out for the division lead.

But if these clubs have playoff spots locked up, especially the Celtics, we could be seeing them rest key players down the stretch, giving the Raps a few more shots at W's.

Record prediction for April- 5 and 4.

Final 2011-12 Record - 37 and 45

Now considering Toronto won only 27 per cent of their games in 2010-11, and last season, won only 35 per cent, a 37 and 45 record would give the club a win percentage of 45 per cent and would be another step in the right direction.

But would it mean playoffs?

Not unless the East gets hit with a malaise that has yet to be seen in the modern era of NBA ball.

That means it's back to the lottery for the Dinos however in the unenviable position of having a late lottery pick in what currently looks to be a soft draft class.

But hey, it's not even August yet so let's not get too negative about things just yet.

Besides, based on last year's schedule I would have pegged Philly to miss the playoffs and instead, they ended up just a win away from the Eastern Conference final.

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