TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors tip off their 27th NBA season at home on Oct. 20 when they host the Washington Wizards. They're hoping that "home" is Toronto's Scotiabank Arena.
After playing their entire 2020-2021 season out of Tampa, Fla., due to COVID-19 restrictions at the Canada-U.S. border, the Raptors have not played at Scotiabank since Feb. 28, 2020, and still await the green light from municipal, provincial and federal health authorities to return home this season.
Team president and vice-chair Masai Ujiri said earlier this week that he's certain they'll get a thumbs up.
"We have no interest (in playing anywhere else)," said Ujiri. "We have not looked elsewhere, we are not going to look elsewhere, we're playing at home; we're trying to play at home. That's the goal for us."
Notable home games this season include the return of six-time NBA all-star Kyle Lowry when the Miami Heat visit on Feb. 3. The Raptors will host Miami again on April 3.
The NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks make their lone trip north of the border on Dec. 2, while LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers visit March 18.
The longest home stand of the season is seven games between Nov. 28 and Dec. 13, and December is their busiest month at home with 10 games. They have two six-game road trips, Nov 15-26 and March 6-16. They'll have 14 back-to-back games this season.
They play the majority of their games Fridays, with 16. They have 15 Wednesday games.
Toronto's schedule features six games on U.S. national broadcasts, with one each on ESPN (Jan. 21 at Washington) and TNT (Feb. 3 vs. Miami), and four on NBATV (Nov. 1 at New York, Nov. 11 at Philadelphia, Feb. 4 vs. Atlanta and April 3 vs. Miami).
Ujiri said that playing last season out of Tampa set the team back two years, and said another season playing outside its market would set it back five. The Raptors missed the playoffs last year after plunging down the Eastern Conference standings during a COVID-19 outbreak in March.
This marks the 10th straight season, and the 21st time in team history, the Raptors have started the regular season at home. Toronto plays its first road game in Boston on Oct. 22.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug, 20, 2021.
The Canadian Press