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Raptors to play twice on national TV in opening week

This should be the start of busy national TV schedule for Toronto.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Adding Kawhi Leonard wasn’t enough to net the Raptors a Christmas Day game (fist pump), but that doesn’t mean the Raptors won’t be heavily mixed into the NBA’s national TV schedule in 2018-19.

As of Wednesday’s preliminary schedule release, we already know of two games that will see the new-look Raptors under the national spotlight in the season’s opening week alone.

America’s first glimpse at the Raptors will come via ESPN on Friday, October 19th as the Boston Celtics will visit Scotiabank Arena in the Greg Monroe Revenge Game. It’ll mark Toronto’s first exposure to a Celtics team with a presumably healthy Gordon Hayward, and could very well be the first glimpse we get of the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals match-up. All four Raps/Celts games this year are going to ooze Pascal Siakam levels of spice.

Slightly blander — mostly due to the addition of Dwight Howard’s third-grade ass storytelling — are the Raptors’ opponents the following night, as Toronto heads to play Washington on Saturday the 20th. That one’s on NBA TV, assuming it doesn’t take a month for that channel to figure out how to air live games this season.

This sneak-peek at the Raptors’ heightened national profile should help dull the sting of once again seeing the team left off the Christmas Day slate (even though it’s probably a good thing because the Raptors’ players will get to spend the day with their families which is nicer than having to work). ESPN and TNT are going to need east coast time slots filled all year long with LeBron James in LA and the East having but a handful of interesting teams. It’ll be a surprise if every Boston/Toronto clash, for example, isn’t nationally broadcast.

Enjoy the final days of indignation. They’re not playing on Christmas, but the Raptors are certainly going to get the recognition so many fans have desired this coming year. Now is the time I warn you about the pastures on the other side of the river not always being so green.