The 2020-21 NBA season is set to tip off on Dec. 22 and will be split into two halves.
The first half of the season will take place between Dec. 22 and March 4. There will then be a week-long break before the second half of the season gets underway, between March 11 and May 16.
The second half of the schedule will be released at a later date, but the NBA released the first half of the 2020-21 schedule on Friday.
Now that we know which games each team in the league will be playing in the first half of the season, here are some of the Toronto Raptors games you won't want to miss.
New Orleans Pelicans
Date: Dec. 23, 2020
The Raptors open the season against the Pelicans, just like they did last season.
This time, Pelicans forward Zion Williamson should be good to go.
The No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Williamson missed the start of last season after undergoing surgery on his knee. He ended up playing 24 games in his rookie season, posting averages of 22.5 points and 6.3 rebounds on 58.3 percent shooting from the field.
Even without Williamson, Toronto's season-opener against New Orleans was a thriller, with Pascal Siakam (34 points, 18 rebounds, five assists) and Fred VanVleet (34 points, seven assists) leading the Raptors to an overtime victory.
🔥 @pskills43 & @FredVanVleet put together strong performances in the @Raptors home opener vs. NOP! #KiaTipOff19 #WeTheNorth- NBA (@NBA) October 23, 2019
Siakam: 34 PTS, 18 REB, 5 AST
FVV: career-high 34 PTS, 7 AST pic.twitter.com/lUEwALTEFL
San Antonio Spurs
Date: Dec. 26
Toronto's first road game of the season will come against DeMar DeRozan and the Spurs.
It'll mark the fifth meeting between the Raptors and DeRozan since he was traded to San Antonio in 2018. He is 2-2 against his former team, defeating the Raptors once in the 2018-19 season and once in the 2019-20 season.
In DeRozan's first game against the Raptors, he posted 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists, the first triple-double of his NBA career.
DeMar DeRozan got his *first ever* triple-double against his former team: 21 pts, 14 reb, 11 ast 💪 pic.twitter.com/Lo1YMmPB4y- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 4, 2019
What will DeRozan have in store for the Raptors this season?
Date: Jan. 4, 2021
A rematch of last season's Eastern Conference Semifinals, which was perhaps the best series of the 2020 NBA Playoffs.
Marcus Smart's hot shooting in Game 2. OG Anunoby's game-winner in Game 3. Kyle Lowry's epic Game 6. Smart's chasedown block in Game 7. Jayson Tatum's heroics. The series had it all.
OG Anunoby wins Game 3 for the @Raptors with the #TissotBuzzerBeater! #WeTheNorth #NBAPlayoffs #ThisIsYourTime pic.twitter.com/3ubNiMR7Xc- NBA (@NBA) September 4, 2020
Even with Kemba Walker's availability up in the air - the four-time All-Star is out until the first week of January at the earliest - we'll get to see two of the league's brightest young stars go head-to-head in Tatum and Pascal Siakam.
Siakam will likely have even more motivation to show up after he struggled against the Celtics in the playoffs.
The Raptors will play the Celtics two more times in the first half of the season (Feb. 12, March 4).
Golden State Warriors
Date: Jan. 10, 2021
This isn't the same Warriors team the Raptors defeated in the 2019 NBA Finals, but Golden State should be much more competitive this season than it was last season with the return of Stephen Curry.
Curry has career averages of 28.3 points, 7.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game on .514/.439/.904 shooting splits against the Raptors.
Additionally, this will be the second time the Raptors face Toronto native Andrew Wiggins since he was traded to the Warriors at last season's trade deadline.
Date: Jan. 27, 2021
The Bucks have been the team to beat in the Eastern Conference in each of the last two seasons. Adding fuel to the fire is the Raptors faced the Bucks in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals and outlasted them in six games to advance to the Finals, where they defeated the Warriors to win their first championship.
The Raptors and Bucks have both undergone changes since then, but it remains a star-studded matchup between two of the best teams in the league.
Date: Feb. 5, 2021
The Nets enter the 2020-21 as one of the most - if not the most - interesting teams in the league.
On paper, the Nets have the potential to be the best team in the Eastern Conference this season. They have one of the best one-two punches in the league in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, plus a deep rotation that includes Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, DeAndre Jordan, Joe Harris, Landry Shamet, Taurean Prince and Bruce Brown.
If everything clicks, the Nets could win it all.
What remains to be seen is how Durant looks after tearing his right Achilles in the 2019 NBA Finals, an injury that sidelined him for the entire 2019-20 season, if Irving can stay healthy and how the pieces fit around the two All-Stars.
For the Raptors, this will be an opportunity to take on a team they could be jockeying for position with in the Eastern Conference standings, and one they could possibly meet in the playoffs.
This is one of two games featuring the Raptors that will be played on ESPN in the United States in the first half of the season.
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