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Scheduling Woes – AKA "Don’t Trade KG While Someone’s Trying to Move!"

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Moving sucks.

I don’t care how "smoothly" things go, it still sucks.

Especially when you’re moving more than one person’s stuff into more than one person’s new place in the current Toronto weather…talk about being sweatier than KG’s T-Wolves jersey.

Wait.

What’s all of this about Garnett being a Celtic now?

Unbelievably, the trade that has been rumoured for about three years finally was made official with a press conference on Tuesday, the day of my move and to Kevin McHale and his crony Rob Babcock I say this:

"How about you give me some heads up when you’re finally going to trade Kevin Garnett…and to an Atlantic division rival no less?" "Had I known that such a monstrous and impacting trade was forthcoming, I probably would have pushed back my moving date or hired AMJ Campbell’s Van Lines for the Move of the Game instead of trying to get the details from Howland while simultaneously trying to fit a Grandma style couch through a much-too-small door!"

Unreal.

So do I think the trade makes the Celtics automatic NBA finalists? Not so much…the team is paper thin around their new "big three" and don’t tell me Eddie House is the answer. In fact one of our readers put it best:

Are the Celtics really any better with their trio of all-stars than the Nets are with theirs? That is, don't they appear to be destined for the same level of high end mediocrity that Vince Carter epitomizes? The "we can be good, but not VERY good,"' level of competence?

Now Howland’s mind has already been brewing up endless points of discussion from this deal which he’s going to share on Monday, so I’ll leave it at that for the time being. However from an overall league and division perspective, I welcome the trade, especially since it may give the Raptors a solid division and geographic (let’s face it, "the Swamp" was hardly an arch-nemesis locale for Toronto) rival for perhaps the next few years, not to mention endless storylines. (Bosh vs. KG, Ray Allen vs. the city he was rumoured to be headed to via trade at one time, Tony Allen vs. Jorge Garbajosa in the all-nasty injury category, etc, etc)

In fact, the NBA’s schedule was released yesterday and the Raptors face the new-look Celtics four times including their third game of the season on November 4.

The Raptors’ season kicks off Wednesday October 31 with a game against the Philadelphia 76ers before a nice little rematch of last spring’s vendetta against Vince Carter November 2.

Unfortunately that game is in New Jersey but emotions will probably still be running high on this side of the border. (VC and co. don’t come to town until February 13th.)

After the match against the Celtics on November 4, the Raptors have two more consecutive games of note November 6 against Milwaukee and the following night against Orlando.

I’m a big believer that a healthy Bucks squad will surprise some folks this year and I’m curious to see how CV Smooth looks…not to mention how Yi looks if he’s even on the team at this point.

As for Orlando, I’m not at all sold on their off-season moves but am curious to see how they look in action. Like Boston they don’t have much in terms of depth, especially up front, however if Dwight Howard can start to show more of an array of offensive moves and players like JJ Redick and Trevor Ariza step up, this team could be a lot more dangerous than people think.

A game that ESPN has circled on their calendar is up next as Golden State comes to town for a Sunday matinee match November 18. Besides what looks to be an exciting, up and down, high-scoring affair, it will also mark the first NBA match-up between two exciting young Italian players in the Raptors own Il Mago and Golden State’s Marco Belinelli.

And believe it or not, I’m even looking forward to Toronto’s November 21st game against Memphis. TJ Ford vs. the slightly younger version of himself Mike Conley, Darko vs. Bargnani...what’s not to like? Same goes for Toronto’s first match with the new-look Charlotte Bobcats on December 3rd.

In fact, you really have to be pleased with the NBA’s off-season from a scheduling perspective. Raptors games against teams like Boston, Charlotte and Seattle last year usually brought a collective yawn from Toronto fans but this off-season has brought a level of intrigue to these games that in the past was only reserved for clubs such as New Jersey and Detroit!

And yes, let’s not forget about the aforementioned Sonics and the Greg Oden led Blazers. Toronto gets its first taste of the top picks of the 2007 draft, plus a reunion with Mo Pete in New Orleans when they embark on a brutal seven-game road trip spanning from December 18 to after Christmas on New Year’s Eve. This is their longest and toughest stretch of the year on paper and surviving the trip which features the Clippers, Blazers, Sonics, Suns, Spurs, Rockets and Hornets could be crucial for Toronto’s success overall as we saw in a similar road trip last season. Late game wins in Portland and Los Angeles before Christmas helped breath confidence into a team that was missing Chris Bosh and helped propel them to one of the league’s best second-halves.

So all in all, on paper how did Toronto come off in this year’s schedule?

Last year the team was faced with an enormous number of road games early in the season however this year that’s not the case. The Raptors play 18 games away from home prior to January and 14 at home. However after that and leading up to the All-Star break, the team plays only seven away while playing 12 at home for a grand total of 25 away games and 26 home games in the first "half" of the NBA season.

And while it’s only a small victory, Toronto does have one nationally televised game this season on ESPN although it’s not until January 4 against the Pistons. My hope though is with a few epic battles against the Celtics for division supremacy that will all change.

Oh wait, you were expecting me to suggest that the battle for the top of the Atlantic might be with the Knicks instead? The Raptors don’t play New York until January 11th and by then I full expect Zach Randolph to be sharing a cell with Michael Vick...

FRANCHISE