DeRozan and the San Antonio Spurs make their only visit of the season to Scotiabank Arena on Feb. 22, weeks after Toronto plays in San Antonio on Jan. 3. It’ll mark the first time DeRozan faces his former club since being traded to the Spurs along with Jakob Poeltl for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
The other notable return — that of current NBA coach of the year Dwane Casey — comes Nov. 14 when the Detroit Pistons play in Toronto. Casey was fired after seven seasons with Raptors and was named head coach of the Pistons in the off-season.
The NBA released its full schedule for the 2018-19 season Friday afternoon. The Raptors will open at home against Cleveland on Oct. 17 before facing Boston on Oct. 20 and travelling to Washington on Oct. 21.
They finish with three road games in their final four — at Brooklyn April 3, at Charlotte April 5, home to Miami April 7 and at Minnesota on April 9.
The league has continued a move to assure players have adequate rest and fans aren’t being asked to watch a subpar product.
Back-to-backs are down across the league — teams average 13.3 per team, down from 14.4 last season and 19.3 in 2014-15; 22 of the 30 teams will have fewer back-to-backs this season than last and it will be the second straight year where no team will have to play four games in five nights.
Stretching it out even further, the instance of teams having to play five games in seven days is down to less than one per team from 1.2 last year and no team will have to play eight games in 12 days for the first time ever. That 8-in-12 may not sound like a grind but it is if you have to do it.
The Raptors will play 12 back-to-backs — down from 14 last season. They will appear on ESPN eight times in the United States and on TNT seven. The 15 U.S. national broadcasts are the most for the franchise since the heyday of Vince Carter in 2001-02.
The local broadcast schedule is still to be determined.
Other Raptors highlights:
- LeBron James and the Lakers pay their only visit to Toronto on March 14; the Raptors are in Los Angeles to play James on Nov. 4;
- The defending champion Golden State Warriors are in Toronto on Nov. 19;
- Toronto plays six straight home games around the league’s February all-star break, the longest homestand of the season. The Spurs visit in the first game after the break;
- The Raptors have two west-coast swings, four games in November and four in December — and four is the longest road trip of the year;
- The annual Nelson Mandela Game on Dec. 5 will be against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Game times are all over the map. Weekday games start at 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. or 8 p.m., Saturday home games are at 3 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. and Sundays start at noon, 3 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 6 p.m. or 7:30 p.m.
The Raptors have Christmas Day off but play Dec. 26 in Miami and will host Utah on New Year’s Day 2019.
It still feels 50/50 that Kawhi even shows up for training camp.
The Greg Monroe signing was underrated.
So was this Deebo dunk, we miss you already DD: