Finally the slog of a month of pre-season basketball has come to an end. For the majority of the NBA, the real season starts tonight. The Raptors head into this season with more optimism surrounding the squad than ever before. The season begins with a matchup against the Atlanta Hawks.
Team Records: This is the first game for both teams, so the records sit at 0-0.
Game Time: Tip off will be at 7:30 tonight, and there is a multitude of ways to watch the game. The game will be broadcast across TSN's 2 through 5 (it's a bloody big deal, apparently) as well as on TSN 1050 radio. Also, Jurassic Park will be full tonight as the Raps are offering an outdoor viewing party. The event is sure to be exciting with scheduled appearances by Raptors personalities including the mascot and the Dance Pak. The square opens to the public at 5:30 so if you don't have a ticket but still want to be a part of the atmosphere head on down to Maple Leaf Square.
The probable starters for the game are as expected with the Raps rolling out the five of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas. The Hawks will counter with Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Caroll, Paul Millsap and Al Horford. As far as injuries are concerned, none are reported for the Hawks, while Lucas "Bebe" Nogueira will dress as Greg Stiemsma is out with a right ankle sprain.
The result of the game tonight will hinge on how the matchup of the big men goes. With Horford coming off his second pectoral tear and just rounding back into form, will Valanciunas be able to take advantage and get the post game going early to open things up for the offense? And in the case of Amir Johnson, the team usually goes as he goes. So with Toronto's adopted son coming into this year feeling rested and better than ever I expect a big game from "The Doctor of Denial" tonight.
As I'm sure all fans have, I've been anticipating this game ever since the last shot against Brooklyn in April and am beyond ready to begin what we hope is the most successful season in Toronto basketball history.
Here we go.