This NBA season could be metaphorically described as one of the worst rollercoaster rides ever. With COVID-19 still ravaging through the league, the NBA’s spotty handling of safety and precautions for its players, and the decision to put profits over health by going through with an All-Star Weekend, it’s been at times a deeply unenjoyable experience. And it’s set to continue on.
For the Raptors, who had so far dodged COVID-19, the team got their first virus scare just this past Friday. As reported, six members of their coaching staff and Pascal Siakam were forced to sit out as per the league’s health and safety protocols. It worsened from there when the Raptors’ game on Sunday against the Bulls was postponed after a positive test results and further contact tracing needed. While we don’t have the full details, we can only hope all that are involved get healthy soon.
Before any of this recent news, the Raptors already had to deal with the circumstances of this season and the situation they are in. The team has been temporarily relocated to Tampa, Florida, meaning they’ve had to ride out the season on what is essentially a 72-game road trip. Add in a 2-8 start to the year, other injuries and inconsistencies, and that big void in their frontcourt after departures during the off-season — and yeah, the “worst rollercoaster ride ever” description feels right.
That sums up the ongoing first-half of the Raptors’ season, but wait, there’s more! The Raptors will (hopefully) begin their second-half of the season on March 11, following the conclusion of the NBA’s makeshift All-Star Weekend. We’ve got the full season breakdown here, so follow along and keep this bookmarked as the season goes on.
The Raptors continue their 72-game road trip of a season with 35 games left (and possibly more) in the second half of their 2020-21 campaign. Here is how these current 35 games are broken down between home, away, and by month:
As we continue with the breakdown, here is the complete look at their second-half schedule.
(Some caveats here: with the postponement of the Bulls game and possibly the final two games of the first-half schedule against the Pistons and Celtics, there could be incoming changes made to the schedule. Jay has a look at that here in the Rap-Up.)
Now, the Raptors caught a break in their first half schedule by only having five sets of back-to-backs — which was a four-way tie for the fewest in the league.
While breaking down the first half of the schedule, I predicted that the Raptors are likely to get an increase of back-to-backs in the second half, and lo-and-behold, it has unfortunately come to fruition. Toronto is currently booked to play eight back-to-backs in an already packed schedule — and more could be added based on where and how the league deals with Toronto’s postponed games.
Here is a breakdown of what that looks like so far:
March: three sets of back-to-backs
- at Charlotte, at Chicago
- at Cleveland, at Houston
- vs. Portland, at Detroit
April: three sets of back-to-backs
- vs. Washington, vs. Los Angeles Lakers
- vs. Atlanta, vs. San Antonio
- vs. Cleveland, vs. Brooklyn
May: two sets of back-to-back
- at Utah, at Los Angeles Lakers
- at Chicago, at Dallas
In the first half of the season, Toronto went 4-6 in their five sets of back-to-back games.
To remind: since we’re talking about a 72-game season, there aren’t any four-game season series within the same conference or against divisional opponents. Instead, there are three-game season-series between all teams within the same conference, for a total of 42 games played within their respective conference. As a result, the NBA had to randomize which teams got to have two games at home and one on the road, and vice versa.
To that end, the Raptors have seven season-series against Eastern Conference foes where they play two games at home and one game on the road and seven other series against East teams where they play one game at home and two games on the road.
Here is the breakdown of the Raptors’ season-series between each East opponent:
- Milwaukee Bucks: 2-1, series completed
- Philadelphia 76ers: 1-2, series completed
- Miami Heat: 1-2, series completed
- Orlando Magic: 2-0, last game in Tampa
- Charlotte Hornets: 2-0, last game in Charlotte
- Washington Wizards: 1-0, two games left in Tampa
- New York Knicks: 1-0, two games left in New York
- Brooklyn Nets: 1-0, two games left in Tampa
- Indiana Pacers: 1-1, last game in Tampa
- Atlanta Hawks: 0-1, two games left in Tampa
- Boston Celtics: 0-2, last game in Boston
- Chicago Bulls: 0-0, one game in Tampa, two in Chicago
- Detroit Pistons 0-0, one game in Tampa, two in Detroit
- Cleveland Cavaliers: 0-0, one game in Tampa, two in Cleveland
The Raptors have played 21 of their 42 games within their conference for a record of 12-9.
Meanwhile, regarding interconference play, the Raps will play each Western Conference team twice, one at home and one on the road, for a total of 30 games, as per usual.
So far, the Raptors’ record against West teams is 5-8 and they will have 17 games remaining against Western Conference opponents in the second half of the season.
Here is their current record against West teams:
- Dallas Mavericks: 1-0
- Houston Rockets: 1-0
- Memphis Grizzlies: 1-0
- Sacramento Kings: 1-1
- Minnesota Timberwolves: 1-1
- San Antonio Spurs: 0-1
- Phoenix Suns: 0-1
- Portland Trail Blazers: 0-1
- Golden State Warriors: 0-1
- New Orleans Pelicans: 0-2
National TV Games
Including NBATV, the Raptors had eight games on national TV, with one more supposedly coming up against Boston on March 4 to conclude the first half of the season. (We’ll see if that happens as planned.)
In the second half of the season, Toronto will be viewed by the national TV masses four times (NBATV included). Here is the national TV broadcast schedule:
- April 11, at New York Knicks on NBATV at 7:30 p.m.
- April 24, at New York Knicks on ESPN at 1:00 p.m.
- May 2, at Los Angeles Lakers on NBATV at 10:00 p.m.
- May 4, at Los Angeles Clippers on ESPN at 10:00 p.m.
Key Games and Dates for the Season
The playoff race is heating up, and with the Raptors at .500 and in the thick of the conference, almost every game is now key. Nevertheless, these following games stand out just a tad more than the rest.
Thurs., March 11, 2021, at 7:30 PM – vs. Atlanta Hawks | Second-half tip-off
The Raptors will open up their second-half schedule against the Hawks. The Hawks won 132-121 in their first meeting in Atlanta. Look for the Raptors to contain Trae Young in this one as he went off for 28 points (14-for-14 from the line) and 13 assists in the first meeting.
Fri., March 19, 2021, at 8:00 PM – vs. Utah Jazz | West’s Best
The Raptors get their first look at the best of the West in the Utah Jazz. Utah has been carving out the entire league, going 23-3 in their last 26 games and sit in first place with a record of 27-7. Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jordan Clarkson are all having career years so this will likely be a tough test for the Raptors.
Wed., March 24, 2021, at 7:30 PM – vs. Denver Nuggets | First look at the Nuggets
The Raptors have yet to play several Western Conference foes this season and the Nuggets are one of them. This should be a fun game with the Nuggets’ MVP candidate Nikola Jokic, along with Jamal Murray’s return to Toront—ahem, head over to Tampa for the first time!
Fri., March 26, 2021, at 7:30 PM – vs. Phoenix Suns | Final meeting against Phoenix
The Raptors will have another challenge when the Phoenix Suns coming into town. The Raptors got burned 123-115 by the Suns in their early-season meeting against them. As always, a game that features Kyle Lowry and Chris Paul will have the Antics Meter set on high!
Sun., March 28, 2021, at 7:00 PM – vs. Portland Trail Blazers | Avenge the ugly loss
The Trail Blazers visit Amalie Arena to take on the Raptors. The first meeting in Portland was a gut-wrenching loss as the Raptors lost 112-111 at the hands of C.J. McCollum’s middy with 9.6 seconds left in the game. The Raptors had a shot at the win but Pascal Siakam’s low-post shot spilled out. It was also Siakam’s first career triple-double, recording 22 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Let’s hope Spicy P gets another one — and the win.
Fri., April 2, 2021, at 7:00 PM – vs. Golden State Warriors | NBA Finals Rematch Part 3
This will always be dubbed as an NBA Finals Rematch no matter how many times the Raptors play the Golden State Warriors in the regular season. Back in the first meeting, the Raptors also lost in the final seconds where Siakam missed a tough turnaround-jumper at the buzzer. We hope for better things this time around.
Tues., April 6, 2021, at 7:30 PM – vs. Los Angeles Lakers | Defending NBA champions
Any team that wins the title the season prior gets an extra emphasis when they visit the home team. This is no different with the LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and their Lakers coming into town. On top of that: this will also be the first time that former Raptor Marc Gasol will play against his old buddies.
Wed., April 14, 2021, at 7:30 PM – vs. San Antonio Spurs | Deebo’s first visit to Tampa
As it stands, DeMar DeRozan is still a San Antonio Spur despite some trade rumours swirling. Toronto always shows love to the former Raptor and if he is still a Spur for this game, it will be no different. In the two seasons since the trade and the first meeting this season, the games against DeRozan and his Spurs have been quite competitive.
Wed., April 21, 2021, at 7:00 PM – vs. Brooklyn Nets, Tues., April 27, 2021, at 7:30 PM – vs. Brooklyn Nets | Offensive juggernauts
The Raptors and the Nets will play each other twice in a span of seven days to finish their three-game season-series. These two games could show us how Toronto will fare against them in a potential playoff series — and they’ll also be important for the playoff race.
Thurs., April 29, 2021, at 9:00 PM – at Denver Nuggets | Final game against Nuggets
The Raptors will head to the Mile High City to conclude their final game of the season against the Nuggets. Winning in Denver is difficult so let’s hope to see Toronto come out with a win.
Sat., May 1, 2021, at 10:00 PM – at Utah Jazz | Start of the West road trip
Toronto will begin this three-game West Coast road trip against Utah deep into the season. The playoff race tightens up when we get to this point of the season, so look for a very competitive contest. All games are must-wins, but this could really, really be must-win for the Raptors.
Sun., May 2, 2021, at 10:00 PM – at Los Angeles Lakers | One last visit
Continuing on with this brutal road trip late into the season, the Raptors will pay LeBron, AD, and Gasol one last visit before they prepare for what will hopefully be a long playoff run for Toronto.
Sun., May 4, 2021, at 10:00 PM – at Los Angeles Clippers + Tues., May 11, at 7:30 PM – vs Los Angeles Clippers | First matchup against Kawhi Leonard and Serge Ibaka
The Raps will conclude their three-game West road trip against their old friends Kawhi Leonard and Serge Ibaka. They will also play the Clippers when they visit Tampa on May 11. These two games will definitely mean more for the Raptors. Oh, what we could have had!
Fri., May 14, 2021, at 9:00 PM – at Dallas Mavericks | Road game finale
Toronto’s last game on the road comes against a feisty Dallas Mavericks team. Depending on how the seedings will look at this time, this game could have some big implications for both teams.
Sun., May 16, 2021, time TBD – at Indiana Pacers | Season finale
The final game of the season always seems to have major playoff implications and this will be no different. Both the Raptors and Pacers could be fighting for homecourt come May 16th, so we could be in for a barnburner.
Tough Stretches in the Second-Half Schedule
The Raptors are going to have to prove that they are battle-tested given how difficult their second-half schedule is. Here are the tough stretches, which include strong teams, back-to-backs, three-games-in-four-nights, and road trips.
- Mar. 24 vs. Denver Nuggets | Mar. 26 vs. Phoenix Suns | Mar. 28 vs. Portland Trail Blazers | Mar. 29 at Detroit Pistons (SEGABABA)
- Apr. 2 vs. Golden State Warriors | Apr. 5 vs. Washington Wizards | Apr. 6 vs. Los Angeles Lakers (SEGABABA)
- Apr. 21 vs. Brooklyn Nets | Apr. 24 at New York Knicks | Apr. 26 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers | Apr. 27 vs. Brooklyn Nets (SEGABABA) | Apr. 29 at Denver Nuggets
- May 1 at Utah Jazz | May 2 at Los Angeles Lakers | May 4 at Los Angeles Clippers
- May 11 vs. Los Angeles Clippers | May 13 at Chicago Bulls | May 14 at Dallas Mavericks | May 16 vs. Indiana Pacers
So that’s it. 36 games — and potentially a few more, and then we’ll be at the end of the Toronto Raptors’ 2020-21 regular season. It’s been a weird one so far, so here’s hoping we can end this rollercoaster ride all in one piece.