Raptors 2022-23 Schedule: Top Games, Championship Odds and Record Predictions

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVAugust 17, 2022

Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

The Toronto Raptors hope continuity is the key to maintaining their upward trajectory after an impressive 2021-22 season.

They went an ugly 27-45 in 2020-21 and didn't seem to be a realistic Eastern Conference contender heading into last season. That was especially the case with franchise legend Kyle Lowry no longer on the roster and a number of other question marks hanging over the team.

All the Raptors did was finish 48-34, make the playoffs and set the foundation for promising years to come.

While they have been connected to Kevin Durant rumors at times, Toronto didn't make any league-altering moves this offseason as it looks to build on its 2021-22 efforts. It re-signed Chris Boucher and Thaddeus Young and added veteran Otto Porter Jr. after he helped lead the Golden State Warriors to the title.

That could be enough to contend for a playoff spot once again, presuming Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes takes a second-year jump and the combination of Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam can carry the offense for extended stretches.

Here is a look at some schedule details for Toronto as it looks to make the postseason for the ninth time in 10 years.

2022-23 Raptors Schedule Details

Season Opener: Oct. 19 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Championship Odds: 40-1 (via FanDuel)

Full Schedule: NBA.com

Top Matchups

Philadelphia 76ers (First game: Oct. 26)

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There is no doubt Raptors fans will be circling the matchups against the Philadelphia 76ers this season.

After all, Philadelphia ended its Atlantic Division rival's season in the first round of the playoffs, and there wasn't much love lost with Joel Embiid criticizing Toronto fans for vulgar chants and seemingly cheering for his injuries.

Play also got chippy at times with players talking trash and growing frustrated during the series, which the 76ers won in six games.

Yet the matchups against Philadelphia will be important for the Raptors for more than just revenge.

Embiid and Co. will be something of a measuring stick since Philadelphia has enough talent to contend for a championship if it fulfills its potential. Whether Toronto will be a middle-of-the-road contender that loses in the first round again or a legitimate Eastern Conference threat will likely come down to how it performs against teams like the 76ers.

Philadelphia also had home-court advantage as the No. 4 seed and quickly seized control of the series with two wins on its floor. Winning these head-to-head games could help Toronto be the one with home-court advantage this time around if there is a playoff rematch.

It is fair to wonder if the Raptors have the combination of size and ability in the frontcourt to contain Embiid, and figuring out a way to do so could determine where they ultimately fall in the Eastern Conference picture.

Cleveland Cavaliers (First game: Oct. 19)

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It would be a stretch to call the Cleveland Cavaliers and Raptors rivals when LeBron James was busy knocking Toronto out of the playoffs with relative ease seemingly every year, but that could change in the future.

That's because both teams have young cores that could be primed to contend in the Eastern Conference for years to come.

Cleveland made the play-in tournament last season and finished with a winning record for the first time since James left after the 2018 NBA Finals. Darius Garland (22) and Evan Mobley (21) could be regular All-Stars for the next decade, and there are enough secondary pieces to challenge most teams in the league.

Toronto has its own star of the future in Barnes (21) to go along with a core of players in their 20s in VanVleet, Siakam and OG Anunoby.

It isn't a stretch to envision these two franchises squaring off in the middle of the Eastern Conference race multiple times starting with the upcoming season, which makes these games so intriguing as they each attempt to carve out a spot in the playoffs.

Cleveland is looking to avoid the play-in tournament entirely by leapfrogging one of the top six seeds, and Toronto will be looking to keep Garland and Co. at bay by playing well in these matchups.

Season Forecast

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The Raptors were 48-34 and the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference a season ago, and the expectation here is they will turn in a similar effort in 2022-23.

It is only natural to expect improvement from Barnes with more experience even though he was excellent as a rookie and a double-double threat during his initial NBA action. Anunoby is an underrated two-way difference-maker, and VanVleet and Siakam have championship pedigree and the ability to take over a game.

Throw in a deep supporting cast with Gary Trent Jr., Young, Porter and Boucher, among others, and there is plenty to like about Toronto.

However, there is still a ceiling on this team in part because it doesn't have the elite firepower to match up with other Eastern Conference stars such as Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum, Jimmy Butler and Kevin Durant.

That will prevent the Raptors from being a top-notch championship contender in a loaded East, but they are still dangerous enough to make the playoffs and perhaps even make a run into the second round or beyond.

Record Prediction: 49-33

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