Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors set to hold practice in Tampa Bay hotel ballroom

For the Toronto Raptors, the start of the 2021 season could be bringing with it a sense of deja vu.

Relocated to Tampa Bay due to travel restrictions in and out of Canada, the Raptors return to Florida, the state that held the Disney World bubble to complete the 2020 season.

That won't be the only similarity for Nick Nurse's squad, with practices set to be held in a hotel ballroom down the street from their temporary home at Amalie Arena.

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The image of a hotel function space being replaced with some of the world's premier basketball players would be a laughable thought...if the majority of the league hadn't done just that only months earlier.

Toronto remain hopeful the team can return to Canada at some point during the season, with Nurse telling reporters he would love nothing more.

"I'm not shy about telling you guys how I love being in Toronto. It's our city, our team, our organization, so there's a lot of unsettling feelings about having to leave, to be honest. It's not easy to pick up and leave that behind. I'd rather be in Toronto, but I'm not," Nurse said.

As for the players, well, it might not be ideal but that is generally true for most things in 2020.

"It's going to be weird, but what isn't weird these days?" guard, Norman Powell responded when asked about the makeshift practice facility.

Complicating factors further for Toronto is the loss of both Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol, with the team on the clock to integrate their new acquisitions of Aron Baynes and Alex Len along with with draftees Jalen Harris and Malachi Flynn.

Toronto are holding training camp in Tampa, with a lone preseason game against the Miami Heat on December 18. They will 'host' the New Orleans Pelicans on December 23 to open the regular season.

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