Franchise: Zach, the fans want to know. Dammnit, they have the RIGHT to know! They have the right to know which games they should actually tune into this season. I'm not talking about potential playoff or lottery match-ups - well, not right now - but which games should actually be "MUST SEE TV" for Raptors' fans! Which match-ups should present the most enjoyable viewing experience this season!?
I want your take on this matter Zach but I'll kick off my picks with the Detroit Pistons. I have no idea how this Josh Smith/Andre Drummond/Greg Monroe science experiment is going to work out, let alone how Chauncey Billups factors in. But what about you? Give us a team whose games versus the Raptors we should be circling on our calendars!
Zach: So, avoiding the obvious juggernauts with transcendent superstars--you know, the Miami's and OKC's of the world--Raps fans should circle February 21st on their calendars, because that's when the Cleveland Cavaliers are coming to town.
A Cavs-Raps match-up hasn't exactly been must-see in the post-LeBron era, but this season there are a number of reasons to get excited for that game. Firstly, the Cavaliers could be one of the teams the Raps are battling for that all-important 8th seed--I know, I know, the 8th seed that half the fan-base doesn't want. But if Casey's boys are reasonably competitive at that point of the year, they'll be well in the mix.
Secondly, you could make the case that the Cavs are Canada's second-team, with potentially two Canadians, in Anthony Bennett and Tristan Thompson in the starting lineup. That's pretty cool.
And lastly, there are few players more exciting in the NBA right now than Kyrie Irving. Kyrie could play basketball with 4 garbage cans on his team, and it would still be worth tuning in for. Oh, and who knows, maybe Andrew Bynum jacks up a bunch of 3-pointers.
Franchise: I'd love that. Actually, I'd love it if he just plays this season considering I drafted him in the sixth round of my fantasy draft.
Cavs = solid choice. Definitely a team I'm looking forward to seeing the Raps play this year too.
For my next pick, let's head out West. I'm going with the Golden State Preachers...er...Warriors. Last year Steph Curry and co. were already must-see, but now with Iguodala in the fold too!!?? AND TONEY DOUGLAS!!! HOW CAN YOU NOT WATCH TONEY DOUGLAS????? Seriously though, they've got a gaggle of gunners, a load of lefties (Bogut and Lee) and speed to spare. That's a team I'm looking forward to seeing Toronto play...aaaah...twice this year.
Zach: I'm definitely in agreement on the Dubs--let's just pray (along with Reverend Jackson) that Steph Curry's uncooperative ankles hold up...at least until December 3rd.
Okay, heading back out East I've got to go with November 15th (it's a Friday so relax and crack open a fews beers) and the match-up with the Chicago Bulls..because, you know Mike Dunleavy jr. plays for them now! But seriously, all NBA fans should be happy that Derrick Rose is back in the league after a year's absence, and hopefully he can stay healthy this year and be the player that he was prior to the injury. He's a guy that does things in a basketball game that take your breath away. So glad he's back.
Okay, so next up the Sixers, right?
But what about the Knicks? Like the Pistons, I'm pretty curious to see how a team with one ball, and eight ball-hogs, does. They've got the talent on paper to at least be a middle seed in the playoffs, but I just have this gut feeling that by the time February hits, things will be imploding in Gotham City. And curiosity aside, how fun is this team going to be to watch on offense? Not since the days of Zach Randolph shooting 3's will the Knicks feature such a collection of chuckers!
Zach: With Melo, and J.R. Smith, no longer on a one year contract, Bargnani may not touch the ball until the new year. Oh man, the Knicks have some serious combustibility potential. Gotta love the Metta-K-Mart-J.R. trio of destruction and poor decision making.
Another team that has some weird pieces--but weird from an on-court perspective, rather than a personality one--is the Horn...sorry, the Pelicans. Anthony Davis is expected to make a big jump this year, which should be fun to watch--who doesn't love a big-man with point-guard handles?!--and they have a bunch of really talented back-court players. Not sure how those guys--Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, and Eric Gordon--are going to mesh, but there's no short of offensive firepower there.
They're probably not quite a playoff team in the Wild Wild Western Conference, but they're going to be very entertaining. February 10th, mark it down!
Franchise: Love the Pellies and like you, not sure where to slot them into the Western Conference gong show.
Are we missing anyone? I think the Wizards could be an interesting viewing experience with Wall back in tow. And while the Pacers' grind-it-out style isn't exactly prime-time viewing necessarily, there was some bad blood between them and the Raptors, and the Dinos now have two ex Pacers coming off the bench. So November 8th, the club's first match-up vs the boys from Indiana, could be interesting.
Any others you want to call out? How about Brooklyn?
Zach: Brooklyn's an interesting one (they come to town November 26th, incidentally) and Alan Anderson will be looking to stick it to his former team.
But no, the Nets are genuine championship contenders this year and it'll be really interesting to see how effective the news boys, Pierce and KG, are in bringing some championship steel to a team that, let's be honest, looked really flaky last season.
I know the Raps don't have much flexibility salary-wise, but holy crap, the Nets are re-defining the term 'capped-out' this season. $101 million on player salaries, and that's even when you include the fact that they somehow convinced Andrei Kirilenko to take less money than Mirza Teletovic is getting.
Anyone else? Want to finish with those boys out in Minneapolis. I know the Raps have just played two pretty ugly games against them, but it's pre-season and all, and, you know, RICKY RUBIO!
Franchise: Good call, last stop, Minnesota!
These aren't the KG and Steph Wolves for sure, but if they can stay healthy, this is a club that could finally crack the West's top 8 in my books. Kevin Love and Nic Pekovic are a very solid frontcourt start, and there's some other interesting rookies and vets surrounding them.
Oh, and you said it, Ricky Rubio. He can't shoot, but any team with him leading the charge should be very enjoyable to watch.
Well...outside of preseason at least.
That's our takes but we want to hear yours, what teams are you most looking forward to the Raptors facing off against this season???