The NBA has released their schedule for the 2014-15 season, providing us with an early chance to forecast the Toronto Raptors’ record for the season. So let’s take a look at each month of the upcoming season and prognosticate!
The Raptors kick off their defence of the Atlantic Division title at home vs. the Atlanta Hawks on Oct. 29th. The team also plays 11 of their first 17 games at home, making a hot start a very reasonable possibility. Only nine of those games come against playoff teams from a season ago.
Even the early season matchups vs. the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers should be very winnable games for the club, as you can’t discount the advantage of continuity that the Raptors will have.
They will open up the season with a 12-5 record.
In December, the script will flip with the team playing just six games at home.
A tough week from Dec. 5th to Dec.12th in which they play Cleveland twice, the Denver Nuggets and the Indiana Pacers will likely keep the club from soaring again, as will playing 15 games in 28 nights.
This will be a down month and anything .500 or better will be great for the club. Expect a 6-9 record for the Raptors in December.
January will offer another good opportunity for the club to build some momentum, with a six-game homestand in the early part of the New Year.
They will also play only seven playoff teams from a season ago, with their toughest matchups being the Golden State Warriors and the Phoenix Suns.
Expect the Raps to take advantage of this lull in their schedule and put together another solid month, going 12-4.
Same thing in February: the Raptors will enjoy a nice five-game homestand to kick off the month, followed by a tough finish on the road.
Games against the San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Houston Rockets, the Charlotte Hornets, the Dallas Mavericks and the Warriors loom as challenges.
A 6-5 record, assuming they can take care of business at home, will carry the Raptors through February.
March looms as another difficult month for the club, with big matchups against the Cavaliers, the Spurs, the Oklahoma Thunder, the Miami Heat, the Indiana Pacers, the Bulls and the Rockets. All of these matchups will pose difficult challenges for the Raptors.
This is the most important stretch of the season for the Raptors, as they will need to create space between themselves and the rest of the division coming down the stretch.
An 8-7 record for January will help them in this task.
Finally, the Raptors close out the season with six of eight games on the road. This will get them ready for the playoff in the best way they could ask. They’ll take care of business and finish out the year 5-3.
So where does this leave us you ask?
The Raptors will end the season at 49-33, good for 3rd place in the Conference, and they will once again take home the Atlantic Division title, as well as another record for wins in a season.
The club will have shown tremendous growth from a year ago, using the experience gained in the playoffs to grind their way through the most difficult patches of the season. Unfortunately, they won’t be able to get by the Cavaliers or the Bulls and will be eliminated in the 2nd round.
However, the foundation will continue to solidify, and who knows, maybe Drake will be successful in recruiting Kevin Durant for the 2016-17 season. We can only hope they continue to succeed until then.
What do you think? Am I being too generous, or not hard enough? How many wins do you think the Raptors will end up with?
Let us know in the comments section below.