Toronto's schedule for next season was confirmed earlier this week, which means it's time to start making predictions for 2012-13!
The Raptors didn't make the playoffs last year, but have a good shot of making them this year. Toronto added some key pieces this offseason and their young players should continue to improve.
The key players for the Raptors next year will be Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas. Those four will decide whether the Raptors play playoff basketball or not.
This preview will look into many aspects of Toronto's season, and will hopefully answer all of the questions you have heading into training camp.
- Wednesday, October 31 vs. Indiana
- Saturday, November 3 @ Brooklyn
- Sunday, November 4 vs. Minnesota
- Tuesday, November 6 @ Oklahoma City
- Wednesday, November 7 @ Dallas
- Saturday, November 10 vs. Philadelphia
- Monday, November 12 vs. Utah
- Tuesday, November 13 @ Indiana
- Saturday, November 17 @ Boston
- Sunday, November 18 vs. Orlando
- Tuesday, November 20 @ Philadelphia
- Wednesday, November 21 @ Charlotte
- Friday, November 23 @ Detroit
- Sunday, November 25 vs. San Antonio
- Tuesday, November 27 @ Houston
- Wednesday, November 28, @ Memphis
- Friday, November 30 vs. Phoenix
Saturday, November 10 vs. Philadelphia
If the Raptors are going to make the playoffs this season, they will have to beat the weaker teams in their division at home. The Atlantic Division may be the toughest division in the NBA next year, so beating teams like the Sixers and Nets in their own arenas will be the key to playing basketball in late April.
Friday, November 23 @ Detroit
The Pistons, like the Raptors, have built their team around a young nucleus. Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe will need to be contained for the Raptors to win this matchup. Fortunately, Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas are both good defenders, so the odds are in Toronto's favor.
October/November W-L Prediction: 7-10
Wins: Sixers, Jazz, Magic, Bobcats, Pistons, Rockets, Suns
Losses: Pacers, Nets, Timberwolves, Thunder, Mavericks, Pacers, Celtics, Sixers, Spurs, Grizzlies
Best One-on-One Matchup of October/November
Andrea Bargnani and Dirk Nowitzki square off near the beginning of the month in what will be the best matchup of November. Bargnani has been compared to Dirk since he was drafted back in 2006, but has failed to have the same kind of success that Nowitzki has.
However, both are tremendous shooters for their size and create problems for opposing defenders because of their ability to stretch the floor. The winner of this matchup will most likely decide who wins the game.
Toronto Has Best-Case Scenario in October/November if...
They start off the month winning two of their first five games. Toronto's schedule is brutal for the first week of the season, so if they can manage to win a couple games, they will have a successful month.
If all goes right, they could finish 10-7.
Toronto Has Worst-Case Scenario in October/November if...
They can't find a way to win against Philadelphia and Utah at home. While the Raptors' schedule is tough to start the season, they still have some winnable games at home. If they fail to take advantage of playing the Sixers and Jazz at home, they're in for a long month. Worst-case scenario, they finish 4-13.
- Monday, December 3 @ Denver
- Wednesday, December 5 @ Sacramento
- Friday, December 7 @ Utah
- Sunday, December 9 @ L.A. Clippers
- Monday, December 10 @ Portland
- Wednesday, December 12 vs. Brooklyn
- Friday, December 14 vs. Dallas
- Sunday, December 16 vs. Houston
- Tuesday, December 18 @ Cleveland
- Wednesday, December 19 vs. Detroit
- Friday, December 21 vs. Orlando
- Wednesday, December 26 @ San Antonio
- Friday, December 28 @ New Orleans
- Saturday, December 29 @ Orlando
Monday, December 10 @ Portland
Toronto finishes up their five-game Western road trip against the Trailblazers. The Raptors will hopefully already have two wins on the road trip heading into this matchup. Stopping LaMarcus Aldridge will be a key factor in this one, who's difficult to contain because he's such a dynamic scorer.
Friday, December 21 vs. Orlando
The Raptors don't play again until Boxing Day, so it's important they finish on a high note before they go on holiday. Toronto will need to make sure Orlando's three-point shooters don't get going.
JJ Redick, Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson are all lethal behind the arc, so it'll be up to DeMar DeRozan and Landry Fields to try and stop them.
December W-L Predictions: 7-7
Wins: Nuggets, Kings, Rockets, Cavaliers, Pistons, Magic, Hornets
Losses: Jazz, Clippers, Trailblazers, Nets, Mavericks, Spurs, Magic
Best One-on-One Matchup of December
DeMar DeRozan and Eric Gordon are two of the best young shooting guards in the league. However, they both have their flaws, as DeRozan is a poor shooter, while Gordon is injury prone.
Both Toronto and New Orleans will need big seasons from their shooting guards if they plan on reaching the postseason this year. This matchup will focus more on offense than defense and will be a fun one to watch.
Toronto Has Best-Case Scenario in December if...
They win four out of five games on their Western Conference road trip. After the trip, the Raptors play a large quantity of their games at home, so a successful time out West could mean a lot of wins for Toronto in December.
Best-case scenario, they go 10-4.
Toronto Has Worst-Case Scenario in December if...
They lose four out of five games on their Western Conference road trip. The Blazers, Nuggets, Jazz and Kings are all beatable teams for Toronto, so it would be devastating for the Raptors if they can only manage one win out of those four games.
Worst-case scenario, they go 4-10.
- Wednesday, January 2 vs. Portland
- Friday, January 4 vs. Sacramento
- Sunday, January 6 vs. Oklahoma City
- Wednesday, January 9 vs. Philadelphia
- Friday, January 11 vs. Charlotte
- Sunday, January 13 vs. Milwaukee
- Tuesday, January 15 vs. Brooklyn
- Wednesday, January 16 vs. Chicago
- Friday, January 18 @ Philadelphia
- Sunday, January 20 vs. L.A. Lakers
- Wednesday, January 23 @ Miami
- Thursday, January 24 @ Orlando
- Saturday, January 26 vs. Cleveland
- Monday, January 28 vs. Golden State
- Wednesday, January 30 @ Atlanta
Sunday, January 13 vs. Milwaukee
Like Toronto, the Bucks are another team that will be battling to try and get a seventh or eighth seed. Milwaukee is a talented team, led by their backcourt duo of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.
Kyle Lowry will most likely play a big part in this one, both offensively and defensively.
Sunday, January 20 vs. L.A. Lakers
Toronto can make a big statement by beating Los Angeles at home. The odds are not in the Raptors' favour, but their defense could bother Kobe Bryant and Co. Andrea Bargnani will have to suck Pau Gasol away from the basket for Toronto to do damage inside.
January W-L Predictions: 9-6
Wins: Trailblazers, Kings, Sixers, Bobcats, Bucks, Sixers, Cavaliers, Warriors, Hawks
Losses: Thunder, Nets, Bulls, Lakers, Heat, Magic
Best One-on-One Matchup of January
Kyle Lowry and Kyrie Irving are two of the best point guards in the Eastern Conference. Few were able to slow down Irving last year, as he went on to win Rookie of the Year. However, Lowry might be capable of stopping him with his combination of strength and quickness.
Both of these young point guards will show why they deserve to make the All-Star team in this matchup.
Toronto Has Best-Case Scenario in January if...
They win all six games at home to start the month. The Raptors have a great chance to start the new year off right with a homestand that lasts almost half the month. Oklahoma City will be their toughest opponent by far, but anything is possible.
Best-case scenario, they go 11-4.
Toronto Has Worst-Case scenario in January if...
They don't take advantage of their homestand. Losing to Oklahoma City is understandable, but losing to Sacramento and Charlotte at home will be tough pills to swallow. If they can't win at home, this could be an ugly month for Toronto.
Worst-case scenario, they finish 6-9.
- Friday, February 1 vs. L.A. Clippers
- Sunday, February 3 vs. Miami
- Wednesday, February 6 vs. Boston
- Friday, February 8 @ Indiana
- Sunday, February 10 vs. New Orleans
- Tuesday, February 12 vs. Denver
- Wednesday, February 13 @ New York
- Tuesday, February 19 @ Washington
- Wednesday, February 20 vs. Memphis
- Friday, February 22 vs. New York
- Monday, February 25 vs. Washington
- Wednesday, February 27 @ Cleveland
Sunday, February 10 vs. New Orleans
The Raptors start the month with three tough home games followed by Indiana on the road. Toronto has to make sure they don't slide too far in the standings, so beating New Orleans at home is a must-win game for them.
Lowry should dominate the point guard matchup, and Bargnani and Valanciunas could be a problem inside for the Hornets.
Wednesday, February 27 @ Cleveland
Toronto's tough month ends with a matchup with the Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving will be hard to stop, but fortunately Cleveland doesn't have another guy that can really hurt the Raptors. Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan should have big games for Toronto in this one.
February W-L Predictions: 6-6
Wins: Hornets, Nuggets, Wizards, Knicks, Wizards, Cavaliers
Losses: Clippers, Heat, Celtics, Pacers, Knicks, Grizzlies
Best One-on-One Matchup of February
Jonas Valanciunas and Anthony Davis are the two favorites to win Rookie of the Year in 2012-13. While Davis will most likely have the upper hand at this point, JV can sway the votes in his direction with a huge game against New Orleans.
This matchup should be filled with rebounding, post moves and shot-blocking, and it should be entertaining to see the young bigs do their thing.
Toronto Has Best-Case Scenario in February if...
They can beat the Celtics and Clippers at home. Boston and Los Angeles will be two of the best teams in the league next year, so the Raptors will be making a huge statement by defeating both of those opponents.
Best-case scenario, they finish 8-4.
Toronto has Worst-Case Scenario in February if...
They can't collect wins at the end of the month. The schedule starts off hard, but ends easy for Toronto. Losing to the Wizards twice and then the Cavaliers will make for a month to forget.
Worst-case scenario, they go 3-9.
- Friday, March 1 vs. Indiana
- Saturday, March 2 @ Milwaukee
- Monday, March 4 @ Golden State
- Wednesday, March 6 @ Phoenix
- Sunday, March 10 vs. Cleveland
- Wednesday, March 13 @ Boston
- Friday, March 15 vs. Charlotte
- Sunday, March 17 vs. Miami
- Wednesday, March 20 @ Charlotte
- Friday, March 22 vs. New York
- Saturday, March 23 @ New York
- Wednesday, March 27 vs. Atlanta
- Friday, March 29 @ Detroit
- Sunday, March 31 @ Washington
Wednesday, March 6 @ Phoenix
The Raptors have a four-game road trip early in the month and a win against the Suns could send them back to Toronto on a high note. It will be interesting to see which former Rocket point guard dominates the game, but the Raptors have an abundance of weapons even if Lowry falters.
Friday, March 22 vs. New York
The Raptors start their back-to-back matchup with the Knicks in Toronto, and it's important they don't get swept in the two-game series. If Toronto's backcourt dominates, the Raptors have a good chance of defeating New York and ensuring they don't fall too far back in the division.
March W-L Predictions: 9-6
Wins: Pacers, Warriors, Suns, Cavaliers, Bobcats, Bobcats, Hawks, Pistons, Wizards
Losses: Bucks, Lakers, Celtics, Heat, Knicks, Knicks
Best One-on-One Matchup of March
Kyle Lowry lost his starting job to Goran Dragic last season after he went down with an injury in March. Lowry can prove he is the better point guard when the Raptors face Phoenix on March 6.
Dragic is the better passer, while Lowry is the better rebounder and defender, so it'll be interesting to see who comes out on top.
Toronto Has Best-Case Scenario in March if...
They beat the Knicks in back-to-back games. It's possible Toronto will be chasing New York for a high seed in the playoffs, so a sweep in March would help them gain a lot of ground.
Best-case scenario, they finish 11-4.
Toronto Has Worst-Case Scenario in March if...
They go 0-4 on their road trip at the beginning of the month. The Raptors will need to find a way to win at least one of their games between the Bucks, Warriors and Suns. A four-game losing streak will be tough for a team fighting for a playoff spot in the East.
Worst-case scenario, they go 6-9.
- Monday, April 1 vs. Detroit
- Wednesday, April 3 vs. Washington
- Friday, April 5 @ Minnesota
- Saturday, April 6 @ Milwaukee
- Tuesday, April 9 @ Chicago
- Friday, April 12 vs. Chicago
- Sunday, April 14 vs. Brooklyn
- Tuesday, April 16 @ Atlanta
- Wednesday, April 17 vs. Boston
Friday, April 12 vs. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls will most likely have Derrick Rose back by the time Toronto faces Chicago at home. The Raptors might have a chance if Rose is still a little rusty, but otherwise this will be a tough game for Toronto to win.
Wednesday, April 17 vs. Boston Celtics
Toronto finishes the regular season against a division rival. Boston will most likely sit some of their starters for the playoffs, so the Raptors should be able to take advantage. This game could be the difference between playing playoff basketball or watching from home.
April W-L Predictions: 5-4
Wins: Pistons, Wizards, Nets, Hawks, Celtics
Losses: Timberwolves, Bucks, Bulls, Bulls
Best One-on-One Matchup of April
This could turn into a three-point contest in Minneapolis, as both Kevin Love and Andrea Bargnani shoot a lot of shots behind the arc for power forwards. While Love is clearly the better all-around player, it's tough to say who the better shooter is.
This matchup should be filled with big shots from both big men, making it an exciting game from start to finish.
Toronto Has Best-Case scenario in April if...
They beat Chicago and Brooklyn at home. If the Raptors haven't clinched a playoff berth already, these two games will be extremely important for them. The Bulls and Nets will be elite teams by April, so hopefully they will rest a starter or two for the playoffs to give the Raptors a chance.
Best-case scenario, they go 7-2.
Toronto Has Worst-Case Scenario in April if...
They don't beat the Pistons and Wizards at home to start the month. Washington and Detroit will both be fighting for the eighth seed at this point, so the Raptors can kiss their playoff hopes goodbye if they go winless against these two teams.
Worst-case scenario, they go 2-7.
Final Record: 43-39
Toronto finally ends their postseason drought in 2012-13 by taking the seventh seed in the East. While they will falter in their first-round matchup, the experience will be important for their young players.
Kyle Lowry will emerge as one of the premier point guards in the conference. His rebounding, defense, and work ethic will rub off on some of the team's new players and help create a winning atmosphere.
Dwane Casey will be considered for Coach of the Year after almost doubling last season's win total. GM Bryan Colangelo will be praised for drafting Jonas Valanciunas and trading for Lowry.
DeMar DeRozan will become a better all-around player and more dynamic scorer. While his jump shot will still need some work, the Raptors will be happy with his improvements over last season and offer him a generous contract when he becomes a restricted free agent.
Finally, Jonas Valanciunas will finish second to Anthony Davis in Rookie of the Year voting, putting together close to a double-double and playing exceptional defense.