Raptors schedule breakdown: Key dates, matchups for 2021-22 season

Kyle Lowry celebrates the Toronto Raptors advancing to the NBA Finals. (Alex D'Addese/Sportsnet)

Toronto will open its season at home on Oct. 20 against the Washington Wizards. The team’s regular season will conclude on April 10 on the road against the New York Knicks.

Here’s a little more to highlight on the Raptors schedule, including when Kyle Lowry will be making his return to Toronto and more.

It’s looking like the Raptors will be back in Toronto, but it’s not guaranteed yet

Coinciding with the announcement of their schedule next season, the Raptors tweeted out an exciting video highlighting some dates on the calendar.

Most notable about this video was the message accompanying it, quoting the Drake lyric, “Just hold on, we’re coming home.”

This phrase, along with members of the Raptors talking about “coming home” makes the suggestion that for the first time since Feb. 28, 2020, the Raptors will actually be playing proper home games in Toronto again.

The tweet certainly suggests strong momentum for this, but it’s not fully guaranteed yet.

As a Raptors spokesperson told Sportsnet, the government still needs to make an official announcement in regards to this, for the Raptors being back in Toronto to be fully cemented.

Still, the video message seems to reinforce something that team president and vice chairman Masai Ujiri spoke very adamantly about Wednesday. The Raptors are focused solely on being in Toronto.

“We continue to have a lot of discussions about this and our hope is that we’re playing at home,” Ujiri said. “We have no interest, 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.

“I told Larry [Tanenbaum] and Adam [Silver] and even Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau that playing away set us back a couple of years and we know that, we are ready for that challenge. Playing another year somewhere else will set us back five years. We are not trying to do that.”

So while things aren’t firmly set in stone yet for the Raptors’ return to Toronto, all signs appear to be pointing in that direction.

Lowry returns on Feb. 3

Iconic longtime Raptor Lowry will play against the Raptors with his new Miami Heat squad as a visitor for the first time on Feb. 3.

That meeting will actually be the third time Lowry faces his old team as Miami will host Toronto first on Jan. 17 and then again on Jan. 29.

And in case you miss Lowry’s first return to Toronto, Lowry and the Heat will return on April 3.

Of note, that Feb. 3 contest is one of just two games that the Raptors are scheduled to appear on U.S. national television, with the game being broadcast on TNT.

The other game that Toronto’s scheduled to be on U.S. national TV is a Jan. 21 contest against the Wizards in Washington on ESPN.

Raptors have a couple of brutal road trips

As is customary, Toronto will be forced to embark on a couple of tough-looking six-game mostly Western Conference road trips this season.

The first coming between Nov. 15 to Nov. 26 that will see the Raptors face off against the Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies and then the Indiana Pacers.

The other comes closer to the end of the season between Mar. 6 to Mar. 16 that has Toronto facing off against the Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.

One bright spot to point out with these long road trips is that after the first one in November, the Raptors will get to enjoy their longest homestand of the season, a seven-game affair running from Nov. 28 to Dec. 13 when they’ll see the Boston Celtics, the Grizzlies, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Wizards, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Knicks and the Kings.

The schedule isn’t quite so kind to the Raptors after the March roadie, but getting at least one seven-game homestand is nice, nonetheless.

It’s still something of a small consolation because these road trips to promise to be quite tough, particularly with back-to-back games packed into them. In total, the Raptors will play 14 back-to-backs this coming season, including seven coming in consecutive road games.

So, as usual, the Raptors schedule promises to be a challenging one.

Green is finally going to get his 2019 championship ring

It’s been more than two years since Danny Green helped the Raptors win that 2019 NBA title, but he still hasn’t received his championship ring.

This is by choice, of course, as he’s always maintained he’s wanted to receive his ring in front of the Raptors faithful in Scotiabank Arena and consider how he spent the 2019-20 season with the Lakers and then last season with the Philadelphia 76ers, he hasn’t got an opportunity to do so yet.

That could all change on Dec. 28, however.

Green is back with Philly this season and his Sixers are slated to play a road game against Toronto on Dec. 28. So should everything go to plan and the Raptors are, in fact, playing in Toronto that will be the date that he finally gets his piece of 2019 championship hardware.

And while we’re on the topic of former Raptors returning, just a few days after Green is slated to get his championship ring, provided he’s healthy and able to play, Ma Fuzzy Chef himself Serge Ibaka himself will make his first return to Toronto since he left in the 2020 off-season on New Year’s Eve along with, of course, Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers.

Missed opportunity by NBA for the 75th anniversary

The 2021-22 NBA season will be one of celebration as the league celebrates its 75th anniversary.

Specifically, on Nov. 1, 1946, the NBA (then called the BAA) played its first-ever game between the Knicks and Toronto Huskies at Maple Leaf Gardens.

On Nov. 1 of this year, the NBA did smartly schedule the Raptors and Knicks to play, but they have New York hosting Toronto instead of the other way round.

Given the fact the first-ever NBA game was played in Toronto, this feels like a missed opportunity to pay proper homage to that first game, but the decision has been and it’s still pretty neat that the league has scheduled Toronto and New York on the actual anniversary date.

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