The schedule is out and for many NBA fans, this will mean calendars being filled up. But what does it mean for the actual teams?
For most Toronto Raptors loyals, this time of the year is one filled with excitement and optimism. However, they may suddenly get a little more pessimistic, as the first month may turn Raptors fans cringing instead of gloating.
After the 4-19 start of a year ago, the city of Toronto must be thinking it can’t get a whole lot worse. Unfortunately, it can. With six of their first eight games coming against playoff opposition, as well as six of their first nine games coming away from the Air Canada Centre, the Raptors will be up against it from the get-go.
Despite the atrocious start in 2012, the Raptors are in fact 4-2 in season openers over the past six seasons. If you thought last season could not get any worse, then have a look back to the 2005-06 season. I won’t say anymore on the matter.
After the season-opening gauntlet, the schedule eases up a little with matchups against the Portland Trail Blazers, Philadelphia 76ers and Washington Wizards, all of which are winnable games. If the Raptors are to be serious contenders this year, they will not only need to beat these kinds of teams, but also improve on the .295 winning percentage they owned last season against playoff teams.
That’s compared to the .553 percentage against non-playoff teams, something that coach Dwayne Casey will also look to improve on.
The Raptors open up at home against the rebuilding Boston Celtics. It will be hard to make any season-long evaluations on just one game, but if there was a great way to start the season, it is against an aging division rival on the way down.
If the Raptors are to make a playoff push, then the month of April will be an exciting, yet testing one. The final eight games will see the Raptors face six playoff caliber teams that will likely make or break the season.