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Toronto Temperature: The Raptors build home opener buzz, move into new reality

They haven’t played a game yet, but the 2018-19 version of the Raptors already has the city buzzing. That means it’s time to take the Toronto Temperature.

NBA: Preseason-Toronto Raptors at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Raptors... are here. I’ve written those words approximately a dozen times over the past couple of weeks — after Media Day, after some preseason wins, after it was clear that today was finally the day they’d officially take the court for real.

I’m already buzzing and it’s only 3pm in the dang afternoon. We don’t need to go over all of this again. The 2018-19 NBA season has already begun, the Raptors are at (almost) full strength and play the Cavaliers tonight in their home opener.

And I say again: the Raptors... are here.

Who’s Hot

The Toronto Raptors

Here’s a great piece from the Toronto Star’s Bruce Arthur. In it, he assesses the general mood around the team, and the sense that this year could be something special. Obviously, we as a city have chose to believe before, and also been stung before by these Raptors. There is no guarantee this year will be any different. Things could go wrong.

The flip-side here is also something to consider: things could go very, very right for the 2018-19 Toronto Raptors. As we documented yesterday, the nerds at 538 say the odds are with Toronto, the returning players have gone through hell and back and know what’s at stake now (see JV’s comments in the linked Arthur piece for more), and also: Kawhi Leonard is a Toronto Raptor. What more could you want? It’s hard not to get excited as hell.

Our Sense of Self

This may be the most confident I’ve felt about a Raptors team in some time. Does the rest of the city feel that way? I say, yes. Have we said that every year for the past five years? I say also, yes. Does that mean we have to maybe slow down and re-asses, and take things one day at a time, and not get ourselves too worked up for the first game of the regular season? I say, hmmmm, hard to tell.

Here, watch this video instead.

Who’s Not

Delon Wright

How quickly things change! Last week, it was Norman Powell coming up lame during a game in which he was putting on a (relative) show. While we were wondering what would happen to young Norm — would he get in his head, would he lose his momentum, would his season derail before it even began — we should have been watching Delon Wright. In a preseason game in which the Raptors’ starters didn’t play much, Wright came up gimpy with a strained thigh and now is listed day-to-day heading into tonight’s home opener.

Unlike Norm, Delon figures to play into the Raptors’ success this year in a big way. This is no disrespect to Powell, who now may have to pick up the slack, it’s just facts. Here’s hoping this day-to-day or, even worse, questionable consideration is short-lived.

Every Other NBA Team

You’ve read the conjecture, you’ve seen the numbers, there are predictions galore. Some say the Celtics will top the East, others worry about Giannis, some even say we’re supposed to watch the Sixers – and of course the Warriors rule all. But on Day 1 of the Raptors season, we can believe it’s still possible for 82-0, and 16-0 straight to the title. Why not? Just get out of the Raptors’ way.

My Sense of the Rational

You read the previous paragraph correctly: You could talk me into the Raptors winning the title right now. Should this column be longer? Should I provide more justification for the ups and downs of the Raptors this week? Nope! Too jazzed! Let’s goooooo.