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Raptors return to Toronto for long-awaited season opener

The Toronto Raptors are back. Not just for regular season basketball, they are back in Toronto for their first regular season home game in 600 days.

The journey

The Raptors last played at home on February 28th, 2020 in a 99-96 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. Nobody had any idea what the next year and a half were going to look like at that point. The NBA season would be suspended a few weeks later during a Raptors West road trip and finished in Orlando, Florida a few months after that.

In 2020-21, the Raptors would begin their season in Tampa, Florida with hopes of a return to Toronto, but it was not meant to be. They would play all 36 of their home games there and frankly it was a season to forget for the Raptors. They finished 27-45 and 12th in the East.

This team has been through it, and they could not be more excited to return home.

Raptors President and Vice Chairman Masai Ujiri spoke about being back in Toronto and one could feel the relief in his voice.

“Home sweet home, man. We are happy. It feels unbelievable. … It has been a crazy couple years for everybody. … Just to come back and feel, just slightly, a little bit more normal… it’s a good feeling.” he said.

The matchup

The Raptors will welcome the Washington Wizards to Scotiabank Arena for game one of the 82-game season.

The 2021 offseason was a significant one for both teams, as the Raptors and Wizards both traded their veteran point guards to contending teams.

The Raptors brought in Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa from Miami in exchange for Kyle Lowry, while the Wizards unloaded Russell Westbrook and picks for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, and the 22nd overall pick of the 2021 Draft.

The Raptors also drafted Scottie Barnes with their fourth overall pick in the draft among other moves, while Washington added guard Spencer Dinwiddie from Brooklyn.

Wednesday night’s game will feature two talented, albeit young and fresh, rosters looking to find their identity. There remains a lot to figure out on both sides so expect lineup experimentation from both coaching staffs.

The Wizards finished 34-38 last season and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the the top-ranked Philadelphia 76ers in five games.

Players to watch

A couple of guys to keep and eye on in this one are OG Anunoby and Bradley Beal.

Beal, for obvious reasons; he led the NBA in scoring for a large portion of last season before he was overtaken by Stephen Curry. He remains one of the most dynamic scorers in the NBA, with a wide variety of offensive tools that he can go to.

Bradley Beal Props:

Points: 27.5 (Over: 1.80 | Under: 1.80)

Rebounds: 5.5 (Over: 1.71) | Under: 1.86)

Threes-made: 1.5 (Over: 1.48 | Under: 2.25)

Points + Rebounds + Assists: 38.5 (Over: 1.74 | Under: 1.86)

Anunoby will likely see a lot of time guarding Beal. Offensively is where he will be a point of interest, however. The 24-year-old’s abilities have been limited on that end of the floor for most of his career. However if this preseason was any indication, Anunoby seems to have greatly improved his ball-handling and offensive skillset. With Lowry gone and Pascal Siakam out for the beginning of the season, he will have a chance to take on a primary scoring role for the Raptors.

OG Anunoby Props:

Points: 18.5 (Over: 1.76 | Under: 1.83)

Rebounds: 5.5 (Over: 1.52) | Under: 2.15)

Threes-made: 2.5 (Over: 2.35 | Under: 1.44)

Points + Rebounds + Assists: 27.5 (Over: 1.83 | Under: 1.76)

Game Odds

The Raptors are listed as 2.5-point favorite.

Spread: Wizards (+2.5) 1.90 | Raptors (-2.5) 1.94

Money Line: Wizards 2.20 | Raptors 1.71

Over/Under: Over (223) 1.91 | Under (223) 1.93

Tip off is scheduled for 7:30 pm ET.