The Toronto Raptors recently announced the team's schedule for 2018 training camp and preseason play.
Though training camp, which begins on Sept. 25 in Vancouver, is still several weeks away, excitement for the Raptors upcoming season is growing by the day. The Raptors' five-game preseason schedule features three Western Conference playoff teams, an up-and-coming Eastern Conference team and an international champion.
Over the two weeks of preseason play, new head coach Nick Nurse will have the opportunity to integrate recently acquired Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard while experimenting with a number of lineups to use in the 2018-19 season.
From the opener in Vancouver to the finale in New Orleans, here's a brief breakdown of the Raptors 2018 preseason schedule…
Sept. 29 vs. Portland (Vancouver, BC)
As part of this year's NBA Canada Series presented by Bell, the Raptors' time in Vancouver culminates with a preseason tilt against last year's No. 3 seed in the West. Provided things go smoothly through training camp, this should be fans first look at Leonard and Green in a Raptors uniform.
While franchise cornerstones Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum might not see much action, the young core of Wade Baldwin IV, Jake Layman, Anfernee Simons, Caleb Swanigan and Gary Trent Jr. that led Portland to a Vegas Summer League championship will see plenty of time. Blazers free agent acquisition and Mississauga native Nik Stauskas will also be featured in the preseason opener.
Oct. 2 at Utah
After opening in Vancouver, Toronto will stay out west, visiting Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City to face the Jazz. Utah is coming off of a 48-win season that ended in a conference semifinals loss to the Houston Rockets. There is a potential for intriguing matchups as the Jazz return its core of Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.
Promising Jazz rookie Grayson Allen and Canadian Naz Mitrou-Long are two players that will likely get plenty of reps in what will be the team's second preseason game as well.
Oct. 5 vs. Melbourne United
In its lone preseason game at Scotiabank Arena, Toronto will host Melbourne United, the reigning champion of Australia's NBL. While the United are still fleshing out their roster, the team will feature last year's championship MVP, Chris Goulding.
Melbourne is not to be overlooked - in the 2017 preseason, the United gave the Oklahoma City Thunder all that they could handle. Melbourne took Russell Westbrook and company down to the wire, eventually losing 86-85 in the final moments.
Oct. 10 vs. Brooklyn (Montreal, Qué.)
The NBA Canada Series picks back up when the Raptors travel to Montreal to take on the Brooklyn Nets at the Bell Centre.
The Nets, who are in the midst of a major roster revamp, feature the promising young talent of D'Angelo Russell, Jarrett Allen, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Caris LeVert and 2018 Most Improved Player finalist Spencer Dinwiddie.
With this being the second-to-last game of the preseason and a week ahead of opening night, both team's featured players could see extended playing time relative to the rest of the exhibition season.
Oct. 11 at New Orleans
Immediately after the Canada Series concludes in Montreal, the Raptors will travel to New Orleans to take on Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Julius Randle and the Pelicans in the preseason finale. With a quick turnaround from the night before, Nick Nurse and staff could very well prioritize rest and limit the minutes of the main rotation.
This exhibition game will be the perfect opportunity for the team to experiment with different "Bench Mob" lineups, continuing to integrate Lorenzo Brown and Malachi Richardson while paving the way for the re-emergence of Norman Powell.