A busy November sees the Raptors make two Western trips, separated by a single home game. The longest homestand is four games from Feb. 3-17, which also covers the NBA all-star break.
Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic are at the ACC for two afternoon games, Nov. 1 and Nov. 22; Canadian star Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns make their only trip on Nov. 29, with the Boston Celtics here Jan. 10 and April 7.
After spending more than two weeks on the road over the holidays the last two winters, usually with trips to the West Coast involved, Toronto plays at Detroit on Dec. 23 and then does not have a road game until Jan. 2 in Boston.
The team’s lone appearance – at the moment – on national television in the United States is a Jan. 15 game at New York on ESPN, although there remains a possibility of adding games later in the season.
The team’s local television schedule, to be split again between TSN, TSN2, The Score, CBC and RaptorTV, isn’t expected to be released until September.
At midsummer, there is one hole remaining, at backup small forward. The remainder of the Raptors’ question marks are pretty much lower case. Andrea Bargnani needs to adjust to more minutes and a starting centre role, even if it will be of the face-the-basket variety of big-man approaches to which he’s most suited. Newcomers Jarrett Jack, Antoine Wright and Reggie Evans are an upgrade to the bench, returning some of the spine and grittiness that departed along with Jorge Garbajosa last year.
The outlook at this early point could best be described as cautiously optimistic: better than last year, it would surely seem, with depth and toughness having been addressed.
But ready to mix with the top half of the conference? No one’s going that far.
All in all, if the Raptors can manage to get out of a murderous November anywhere near the .500 mark, they will be doing well. They play 18 games in October and November, 10 of which will come on the road. Eight of those 10 games will be against Western Conference opponents, five of whom made the playoffs last year.
Ok, I’m an NBA fan. And I’m a big Toronto Raptors fan too. And I’m Italian.
So, when the Raptors got Marco Belinelli, the italian Kobe, for a bag of chips (a guy called George) that really made my day. Marco is going to choose the number ZERO, because of the lack of minutes he played in Golden State, and because of the “fresh start” he’s gonna have in Toronto. At least, I hope he’s gonna.
I’m all for lifestyle calls, and it sounds as if Turkoglu and his wife are going to enjoy the thriving Turkish community in Toronto, but his high-profile playoff days are done (he signed a five-year deal) . . . One thing about the Raptors: As they struggle through the season and (eventually) lose Chris Bosh, they have quite an international cast with Turkoglu, Jose Calderon, Carlos Delfino, Andrea Bargnani and Marco Belinelli. The real key to Toronto’s making an impression: Rookie DeMar DeRozan, if he’s as good as advertised. They should have no problem giving him a ton of minutes .
"No one thought I would one day play in the NBA, and a few years ago it didn’t seem like Kevin would be a head coach and a conference champion," Mensah-Bonsu said. "Both of us worked hard, believed in ourselves and never let anyone get us down."
Broadus, who later was an assistant coach at Georgetown before taking over as BU’s head coach in 2007, had high praise for his former recruit.
"He’s a hard worker and an unbelievable player," Broadus said. "He’s an even better person than he is a player. To fly up here and speak to the kids just (tells you) the type of person he is."
Raptors at Blazers. March 14. The city of Portland is generally a friendly, mild-mannered, laid-back place. You know, a lot of stores that smell like patchouli and guys who play hacky sack in the middle of the afternoon. But one thing to do if the goal is to make the locals turn not-so-nice is this: Slight their basketball team. And no one slighted a team more in the offseason than small forward Hedo Turkoglu, who all but had a free-agent deal finished in Portland before he let his wife talk him out of signing in the Pacific Northwest and instead relocating to Toronto. Turkoglu would have been a perfect fit for the Blazers, who wanted to boost their small forward spot with a versatile, experienced wing man. Alas. “I don’t blame anyone in situations like that, said Portland coach Nate McMillan. “The way I look at it is, nothing is done until the league approves it and the guy is on your roster. Personally, I am not bitter or anything like that.” But what about the rest of the Portlanders?
The Toronto Raptors made some huge splashes in the free agent market, by signing Hedo Turkoglu to a 5 yr, $53M deal, and ending a tenure with the Orlando Magic that gave him a reputation as one of the better and more underrated closers in the game. The Raptors made the move to entice Chris Bosh into staying in Canada for longer than 2010.
With this move, the Raptors have flown under the radar as one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. After a 33-49 2008-2009, the Raptors could move into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference. With Bosh, Turkoglu, Andrea Bargnani, creating a pretty good core for this team, GM Bryan Colangelo not only made this team better, he definitely could have persuaded the centerpiece of this core, Bosh, to stay.
Beyond 2010, though, a new name will emerge. O’Neal will probably take a pay cut after this season. This means a player like Andrea Bargnani, Al Thornton, or Spencer Hawes could rise up and take a future MOP title. Once again, though, that probably won’t happen until 2011.
The SEXTA TV channel and José Manuel Calderón have reached an agreement to broadcast the National Team’s European Championship games that Spain will play in Poland. José Manuel will be a special broadcaster for the TV channel that has the Rights to televise the European Championship. José Manuel will travel to Poland to be close to his teammates and to make comments during the games.
Antoine Wright – The new Raptor joins The Gameplan to discuss how his summer is going and where he fits in with his new team.
I personally prepare an excel sheet (excessive I know) to figure out what games I will be attending and which of my lucky friends will be accompanying me down to the ACC, approximately 35 times this season.
Immediate reactions on viewing the Raptors schedule were positive. The killer west coast swings are shorter than they have been in the past, and though the team has 21 back to back games, they are even balanced over the course of the season.
Also, nice to see that Bosh hangs out with classy people (read the tshirt).
Tags: andrea bargnani, Antoine Wright, basketball, bryan colangelo, Chris Bosh, Demar DeRozan, Hedo Turkoglu, Jarrett Jack, jose calderon, marco belinelli, NBA, pops mensah-bonsu, Reggie Evans, toronto raptors