After a preseason that was mostly overshadowed by the Blue Jays' playoff run (RIP), the real games are finally about to begin. The Raptors went 5-2 in preseason, but the regular season is obviously a completely different beast. The new-look starting unit got some time to gel, Dwane Casey got time to start the auditions for the PF spot, and we saw our revamped defense at work. The Pacers had an impressive preseason themselves, also registering a 5-2 record.
Things to Watch For:
1. Paul George at PF
George has looked back to his former self after his recovery from a gruesome broken leg. Most notably, he'll be playing primarily at the 4-spot, so the Raptors PF rotation will be tested right away. Will Dwane Casey trust Patrick Patterson to handle the responsibility for a prolonged period? How much small-ball do we see of our own? After all, guys like Paul George were the main reason to go out and acquire DeMarre Carroll.
2. Jonas Valanciunas 4th Q Watch
Much has been made of the lack in 4th quarter minutes for Valanciunas last year. Casey has mentioned that he'll be giving JV more of a shot late in games this year, and the early-season should be a good litmus test for that. The Pacers have no plodding bigs that JV tends to perform well against, and are a smallish, fast team that should test his mobility.
3. Intro Music!!!!
I'm a sucker for good production value during player intros. This is a big season for the franchise, with the rebrand, and the All-Star game festivities coming up in February. I hope the Raptors to go all-out in making the product more entertaining in every sense - from the fan experience at the games to the play on the court. Any guesses for what track they'll use?
Basketball's back! Hope springs eternal. Go Raps!
Tip-Off Time: 7:30pm
Where to Watch: TSN