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NBA releases first half of 2020-21 schedule for Toronto Raptors

Back-to-backs are a central theme as the Raps open their season December 23 hosting the Pelicans.

Toronto Raptors v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The NBA confirmed Friday that the Raptors will indeed play regular season basketball this season, as the first half of the 2020-21 schedule was announced.

Toronto will begin their season at home in Tampa, as they face the Pelicans on December 23 at Amelie Arena. That’s followed by a visit to San Antonio for a Boxing Day matchup with DeMar DeRozan and the Spurs.

Games up until the end of February were announced, with the second half release coming in February.

In all, the Raptors will play five back-to-backs to limit travel — something the league is calling a “series” — vs. Charlotte (Jan. 14-16), vs. Miami (Jan. 20-22), at Indiana (Jan. 24-25), at Milwaukee (Feb. 16-18), and vs. Philadelphia (Feb. 21-23).

The NBA has touted these local series as a way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 among teams and overall, the league has cut single game road trips by roughly 50%. Despite this, the Raptors will travel from Tampa more than any other team in the first half based on raw distance.

The first half schedule features just four national television games on ESPN and TNT, with the first not until February 5 when Toronto faces the Brooklyn Nets on ESPN. Those are followed by February 18 at Milwaukee (TNT), February 24 at Miami (ESPN) and March 4 at Boston (TNT). Three more games will air on NBA TV; we’ll be getting the local broadcast information from Sportsnet and TSN at a later date.

As for significant road trips, one stands out for its difficulty right off the hop, as the Raptors will play four games in six nights on the west coast to ring in the new year.

A quick reaction to the initial schedule? There’ll be plenty of time for the Raptors to get to know each other on the team plane right from the start, it looks like. With seven of their first ten games away from Tampa, the Raptors really don’t get acquainted with the new home until January 14 — which means three weeks on the road to work in a new frontcourt and put returning players into a trial by fire.

From what we’ve heard, there’s been more preparation into this season start than there was coming into the bubble, but every start to the season is a little sloppier than the end results — the Raptors will need to come prepared in order to get off on the right foot.

More to come in the next few days. What do you make of the first schedule release?