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Key Dates and Review for the 2019-20 Toronto Raptors schedule

The Raptors will enter their 25th year in the NBA as the 2019 defending champions. For Toronto, tip-off for the 2019-20 season is coming on October 22.

NBA: Playoffs-Milwaukee Bucks at Toronto Raptors Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA released the 2019-20 schedule for all 30 teams in the league on Monday. Here is a complete breakdown of the defending NBA champions Toronto Raptors’ schedule, and all the key dates you need to know. The Raps will be tipping-off their 25th season in existence and raising their championship banner on October 22 against Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans.

It’s a big year — so let’s review.

Schedule Breakdown

First, here’s the breakdown of the Raptors’ 82-game schedule by month:

The NBA is continuing with the recent trend of cutting back-to-backs so that players can stay fresh throughout the season.

This year, the Raptors will have 13 back-to-backs, which ironically is one more than what they had last season. Toronto will also 12 sets of three games in four nights, which is the same amount as last season. For what it’s worth (which isn’t much because this is a different team than last season), the Raptors had a record of 17-7 in back-to-backs and 25-11 when they played three games in four nights.

Below shows who Toronto will be facing up against in back-to-backs and their three games in four nights contests. We’ve got that angle covered.

Season-Series Breakdown

The Raptors will play four sets of 4-game season-series against their Atlantic Division rivals in the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, and Philadelphia 76ers. The Raptors will play each team twice at home and twice on the road within their division. Last season, Toronto tied their series at two games apiece against the Celtics, won all four games against the Knicks, and went 3-1 in their respective series against both the Nets and Sixers.

Toronto will also play six sets of 4-game season-series against Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Hornets, Atlanta Hawks, and Orlando Magic from the Eastern Conference. Each team will play twice at home and twice on the road.

Toronto will play four sets of 3-game season-series sets against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls, and Miami Heat. Of those four series, two of them will be played twice at home and one game on the road (vs. the Cavs and Wizards), while the other two will be played once at home and twice on the road (vs. the Bulls and Heat). People want a chance to see the champs!

As always, the Raptors will play 30 games against Western Conference opponents, with each team playing one home game and one road game.

National TV Games

The Raptors will have 11 games on national television (and eight more games on NBATV). The 11 games will be split up between ESPN and TNT, with ESPN showcasing six games and TNT broadcasting the other five.

National Broadcast Schedule:

  1. Tuesday, October 22, 2019 at 8 PM – vs. New Orleans Pelicans on TNT
  2. Wednesday, December 11, 2019 at 7 PM – vs. Los Angeles Clippers on ESPN
  3. Christmas Day 2019 at noon – vs. Boston Celtics on ESPN
  4. Wednesday, January 22, 2020 at 7:30 PM – vs. Philadelphia 76ers on ESPN
  5. Friday, February 7, 2020 at 8 PM – at Indiana Pacers on ESPN
  6. Tuesday, February 25, 2020 at 7:30 PM – vs. Milwaukee Bucks on TNT
  7. Thursday, March 5, 2020 at 10:30 PM – at Golden State Warriors on TNT
  8. Monday, March 16, 2020 at 8 PM – vs. Golden State Warriors on ESPN
  9. Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 7:30 PM – vs. Los Angeles Lakers on TNT
  10. Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at 9 PM – at Milwaukee Bucks on ESPN
  11. Tuesday, April 14, 2020 at 7:30 PM – at Miami Heat on TNT

Key Dates for the Season

Now we get to the important stuff: the games themselves. Here are some of the key dates to keep in mind as the 2019-20 season gets rolling for the Raptors.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019 at 8 PM – vs. New Orleans Pelicans | Season opener plus Zion

The Raptors will raise their 2019 championship banner to the rafters inside Scotiabank Arena and the players will receive their rings when they open the new season against the highly-touted rookie, Zion Williamson and the new-look Pelicans.

Friday, October 25, 2019 at 7 PM – at Boston Celtics | First meeting against division rival

Games against the Celtics just mean much more than any other team and to have the first meeting in just the second game of the season should be a fun one.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 at 7:30 PM – vs. Detroit Pistons | Still need a win vs. Dwane Casey

This game may not mean as much but the Raptors could use this win as Dwane Casey and his Pistons won all three meetings against Toronto last season.

Saturday, November 3, 2019 at 8:00 PM – at Milwaukee Bucks | Giannis Revenge Game?

An early-season meeting with Milwaukee will have Giannis Antetokounmpo and his teammates thinking back about how they were up 2-0 but caved in in last season’s Eastern Conference finals. Also: Giannis vs. Pascal Siakam as their team’s focal point should result in some fun basketball.

Sunday, November 10, 2019 at 9:30 PM – at Los Angeles Lakers | Danny Green is a Laker

The Raptors will get their first look at the dynamic duo in LeBron James and Anthony Davis and will be facing former Raptor Danny Green, who was a key piece for Toronto’s championship season last year.

Monday, November 11, 2019 at 10:30 PM – at Los Angeles Clippers | Kawhi Leonard is a Clipper

Following the Lakers game, the Raptors will stay in L.A. for one more night to take on former Raptor and the 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard with his new Clippers squad.

Monday, November 25, 2019 at 7:30 PM – vs. Philadelphia 76ers | Remember the Shot?

Philly will make their first visit back to Toronto since getting eliminated in seven games in the 2019 second-round playoffs courtesy of The Shot.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019 at 7:30 PM – vs. New York Knicks

Fellow Canadians R.J. Barrett and Ignas Brazdeikis will make their first trip to Toronto on (American) Thanksgiving Eve.

Thursday, December 5, 2019 at 7:30 PM – vs. Houston Rockets | Nelson Mandela Night

The Raptors will host the Houston Rockets and will get their first look at Russell Westbrook and James Harden on “Mandela 100 Night”, which celebrates the legacy of Nelson Mandela.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019 at 7:00 PM – vs. Los Angeles Clippers | Kawhi returns to Toronto

Kawhi should be welcomed into a huge roar, a standing ovation, and a tribute video after helping deliver the Raptors their first championship last season. Remember: do not boo Kawhi.

Saturday, December 14, 2019 at 7:30 PM – vs. Brooklyn Nets

Toronto will play their first of four games against Kyrie Irving and his Nets, deep into the first half of the season.

Christmas Day 2019 at noon – vs. Boston Celtics | Second-ever Christmas game

The Raptors finally get their Christmas day game since 2001, and it will be the first time Toronto will be hosting a Christmas game.

Saturday, December 28, 2019 at 7:30 PM – at Boston Celtics

Following their Christmas game, the Raptors will travel to Boston to play the Celtics again. This could be a key game as it could have possible seeding/tiebreaker implications as it will be the third game played in the season series.

Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 6 PM – vs. San Antonio Spurs | DeMar is back (again)

An old friend comes back to town. DeRozan will once again be welcomed into another standing ovation and could be another emotional night for him and the fans.

Monday, January 20, 2020 at 2:30 PM – at Atlanta Hawks | MLK Day

The Raptors will travel to Atlanta to play the Hawks on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020 at 7:30 PM – vs. Indiana Pacers / Friday, February 7, 2020 at 8 PM – at Indiana Pacers

The Raptors will play a home-and-home series against the Pacers, where these two games could determine the season series winner if whichever team wins these two as well as the first meeting back on December 23. There hasn’t been an injury update on Victor Oladipo, who injured his quadriceps against the Raptors last January but could make his return around this time.

Thursday, March 5, 2020 at 10:30 PM – at Golden State Warriors | NBA Finals rematch

The NBA may have prolonged the NBA Finals rematch due to Klay Thompson recovering from his ACL injury. Nonetheless, this should be a good game and one to remind us that the Toronto Raptors won the 2019 NBA championship.

Monday, March 16, 2020 at 8 PM – vs. Golden State Warriors | NBA Finals rematch at home

The Raptors will be hosting the Warriors just 11 days after playing their first NBA Finals rematch at the Warriors’ new arena.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 7:30 PM – vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Danny Green makes his first visit back to Toronto as a Laker, which is weird to say as of this moment because he is still here in Toronto doing several activities/events with fans.

Monday, March 30, 2020 at 7:30 PM - vs. Memphis Grizzlies | The Return of Jonas!

After hurting his hand and then getting traded away to bring in Marc Gasol, the Lithuanian legend, Jonas Valanciunas, takes the court in Toronto for the first time in a different jersey. It’s sure to be a raucous game, as JV has promised to do what he can to kick his old teammates’ collective behind.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at 9 PM – at Milwaukee Bucks / Friday, April 3, 2020 at 7:30 PM – vs. Milwaukee Bucks

This home-and-home series will be the final two games the Raptors will play the Bucks and likely the final tough test the Raptors will endure before preparing for a possible playoff run.

Sunday, April 12, 2020 at 6 PM – vs. New York Knicks | Home closer

The Raptors will play their final home game of the season against the Knicks. Regardless of how the season goes, the home closer will be a time to look back on the year and a moment for the players to thank the fans for their support all season long.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020 at 7:30 PM – at Orlando Magic | Season closer

Toronto will close out their 2019-20 season against Magic in Orlando. In seasons past, some games played on the final day of the season determine where teams finish in playoff seedings. This could be no different.

Tough Stretches This Season

There will of course be some tough tests for the Raptors this season. The stretches listed below factor in tough teams, back-to-backs — regardless of difficulty of opponents, three games in four nights, and road trips.

November:

  • Nov. 8 at Pelicans | Nov. 10 at Lakers | Nov. 11 at Clippers | Nov. 13 at Trail Blazers | Nov. 16 at Mavericks

December:

  • Dec. 1 vs. Jazz | Dec. 3 vs. Heat | Dec. 5 vs. Rockets | Dec. 8 at 76ers | Dec. 9 at Bulls

January:

  • Jan. 2 at Heat | Jan. 4 at Nets | Jan. 7 vs. Trail Blazers | Jan. 8 at Hornets | Jan. 12 vs. Spurs

February:

  • Feb. 5 vs. Pacers | Feb. 7 at Pacers | Feb. 8 vs. Nets | Feb. 10 vs. Timberwolves | Feb 12 at Nets

March:

  • Mar. 1 at Nuggets | Mar. 3 at Suns | Mar. 5 at Warriors | Mar. 8 at Kings | Mar. 9 at Jazz
  • Mar 16 vs. Warriors | Mar. 18 at 76ers | Mar. 20 vs. Celtics | Mar. 22 vs. Nuggets | Mar. 24 vs. Lakers

April:

  • Apr. 1 at Bucks | Apr. 3 vs. Bucks | Apr. 5 at Rockets
  • Apr. 10 vs. Hawks | Apr. 12 vs. Knicks | Apr. 14 at Heat | Apr. 15 at Magic

Miles Travelled This Season

With most of the Eastern Conference teams all bunched up closely together, it gives the Raptors an advantage when it comes to travel. To add to that, the longest road trip Toronto will go on will be five games, which happens twice this season, as shown above in the section.

Also to note, the Raptors play the Lakers and Clippers back to back in their first five-game road trip of the season, so that essentially turns out to be a four-game road trip. With that said, the Raptors rank in the bottom seven in the league in miles travelled, per Ed Küpfer.

Strength of Schedule

There are more bad teams combined in both the Western and Eastern Conferences than there are good ones, so with Toronto already being a good team, this gives the Raptors an edge in terms of their strength of schedule (SOS). To add to that, several of the top teams are in the West and the Raptors only play them twice a year.

As per the chart below from Jared Dubin, Toronto is in the bottom third of the SOS rankings — which means they have one of the easier schedules out there.

And that’s it. You’ve got all the dates in mind and the review is done. Now all we need to do is wait for October 22nd.