Toronto Raptors: 3 pivotal matchups in return-to-play schedule

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks versus the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks versus the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
1 of 4
Toronto Raptors
Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers and Marc Gasol of the Toronto Raptors. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

With the NBA’s return-to-play initiative officially green-lit, we look at the Toronto Raptors’ eight-game schedule and the matchups that are a must-watch.

The NBA and the player’s union released the revised schedule Friday, hours after officially signing off on the league’s return-to-play plan in Orlando starting on July 30. The Toronto Raptors will kick off their revamped campaign two days after.

All 22 teams will play eight more games, with one back-to-back, over a two-week period. After that, the teams will be seeded via their winning percentage, to account for the different number of games played teams had when the league suspended the season in March.

Where does that leave Toronto? Well, with a .719 winning percentage (good enough for the second seed currently), they are already a lock to be in the playoffs.

Eight-straight losses would give the Raptors a .638 winning percentage, which would still be better than the current fourth seed. Every team will be changing their percentages with these games, but still – the seventh seed Brooklyn Nets could go 8-0 during this restart, (bringing them to .527) and still be miles behind the Raptors.

It is impossible for Toronto to drop out of the playoffs. Essentially, they are playing to get in playoff shape.

In a year where home-court advantage means nothing, the Raptors are almost certainly assured one of the top four seeds, and should use these games to shake off the rust they’ve picked up over the past three and a half months. This puts them in a naturally better situation than say, the Washington Wizards, who need to hit the ground running to have any hope of making the playoffs.

Still, warm-up games or not, the Raptors’ eight-game schedule is one of the more difficult slates released yesterday. The Raptors play the other three teams in the top four of the East, as well as the Lakers.

When you consider the Raptors back-to-back has them playing the first seed Bucks in the second game, it’s clear that Nick Nurse’s squad will have their work cut out for them in Orlando. Here are the three main highlights of the Raptors’ return to play schedule.