Raptors to host Cavaliers in October home opener as NBA releases schedule

The Toronto Raptors will play nine games this season that will be nationally televised in the United States. The Raptors announced their 2022-23 season schedule on Thursday, and among the highlights are two games each on ESPN and TNT and five others on NBATV.

Kyle Lowry's Miami Heat visit Toronto in November and March

Toronto forward Scottie Barnes drives to the basket against Cleveland centre Evan Mobley a game in November. The Raptors will host the Cavaliers for their home opener in October, the NBA announced on Wednesday. (Evan Buhler/The Canadian Press)

The Toronto Raptors will play nine games this season that will be nationally televised in the United States.

The Raptors announced their 2022-23 season schedule on Thursday, and among the highlights are two games each on ESPN and TNT and five others on NBATV.

The Raptors host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 19 to tip off their 28th NBA season, opening at home for the 11th straight year, and 22nd time in team history. Their first road game is Oct. 21 at Brooklyn.

Other season highlights include a Dec. 7 home date against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. The Raptors will host the NBA champion Golden States Warriors on Dec. 18, and last year's MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets on March 14.

Former Raptors star Kyle Lowry and the Miami Heat will visit Toronto's Scotiabank Arena twice, on Nov. 16 and March 28.

The eighth annual Giants of Africa Game, celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela, is Dec. 5 versus Boston.

Thursday's NBA schedule features four games against divisional foes, two home and two away.

The Raptors' longest home stand is six games from Jan. 4 to 14, and their longest road trip is seven games, Jan. 25 to Feb. 5.

Toronto has 12 back-to-backs this season, two fewer than last season.

Home games will tip off at 7:30 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday. Saturday games will start at either 5, 7, 7:30 or 8 p.m. Sunday games will tip off at 1, 3, 3:30 or 6 p.m.

The Canadian broadcast schedule will be announced at a later date.

LeBron chasing scoring record

By mid-January, LeBron James could be the NBA's scoring king.

The numbers show that James could catch Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the final two weeks of January — assuming James doesn't have to miss games and scores at his usual pace. James enters this season No. 2 on the all-time list, 1,325 points behind Abdul-Jabbar.

Outside of Toronto, there are the usual highlights — Stephen Curry and Golden State will raise another title banner on opening night, as is the NBA's customary perk for champions; a five-game slate of games on Christmas yet again; the traditional games in Atlanta and Memphis as part of the leaguewide commemoration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This year brought a twist, with U.S. Election Day now a newly created off day in the NBA.

"We have obviously a very large ecosystem of league office staff, team staff, players, arena staff that are truly driving to this process," said Evan Wasch, who, along with Gene Li and Tom Carelli, is on the NBA team of executives who build the schedule. "So, we are just one small piece."

Wasch, Li and Carelli spent weeks putting a 1,230-piece jigsaw puzzle together, mindful of things like team wishes to have games on certain dates, total miles traveled, even carbon footprint.

The big headline from their work: Teams will travel a bit less, about five per cent fewer miles in the air on average over last season.

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International flavour

The NBA has scheduled 45 games that will be shown live in prime time across Europe, the Middle East and Africa on Saturdays and Sundays.

Many of those games feature at least one prominent international player, including two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic of Denver, two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee, reigning scoring champion Joel Embiid of Philadelphia and All-NBA first-teamer Luka Doncic of Dallas.

San Antonio has a "home" game against Miami in Mexico City on Dec. 17. Detroit has a "home" game with Chicago in Paris on Jan. 19.

Some prominent NBA names missed the entirety of last season for a variety of reasons. Among those who were in that group and are expected back this year, assuming they're ready to go when their teams play Game 1:

Kawhi Leonard and John Wall, now teammates with the Clippers, would open their season Oct. 20 — a "road" game against the Lakers.

Denver's Jamal Murray, of Kitchener, Ont., would return Oct. 19 at Utah. Brooklyn's Ben Simmons and New Orleans' Zion Williamson also would be in line to come back Oct. 19 when the Nets host the Pelicans.

With files from The Associated Press

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