Washington (0-0) at Toronto (0-0)
When: Wednesday, October 20th, 2021
Where: Scotiabank Arena,
Time: 7:30 ET | TV: League Pass
Opening Odds: Toronto -3.5/220
For the first time in over a year and a half, the Toronto Raptors will play a true home game in front of a packed house. The Raptors will open their 2021-22 season by hosting the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night at Scotiabank Arena. The last time the Raptors played a regular season home game in Toronto was Feb. 28, 2020, when they lost 99-96 to the Charlotte Hornets. Just four players remain on the Toronto roster from that game: Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Chris Boucher. Toronto went on a road trip after that and then the pandemic shutdown the entire sports world. The Raptors played as the “home” team for some games in the Florida bubble in the summer of 2020 and then all their home games in Tampa, Fla., last season.
The Wizards begin a new era under first-year head coach Wes Unseld Jr. and have undergone a makeover. The team still has Bradley Beal, but seven new players dot the roster. Spencer Dinwiddie, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, Aaron Holiday and Kyle Kuzma should be the main core. Among the returning players are Deni Avdija, Davis Bertans, Daniel Gafford and Raul Neto. The Raptors were 2-1 vs. Washington last season, but the Wizards are 3-1-1 ATS in the past five as the “road” team in the series. The Raptors won at the Wizards 113-108 in Toronto’s preseason finale Oct. 12.
Washington ended the season strong and finished 34-38 to earn one of the Eastern Conference play-in spots. They lost to Boston but then claimed the eighth and final playoff spot with a 142-115 blowout of Indiana. In the first round of the postseason, the Wizards were easily beaten in five games to East top-seeded Philadelphia. Beal finished second in the NBA in scoring at 31.3 points per game and Russell Westbrook averaged a full-season triple-double again. Westbrook was traded to the Lakers in the offseason in what was basically a salary dump. With a new coach and new set of players, the Wizards are hoping to make a giant leap in the postseason. The Wizards are 12-4-1 ATS in their past 17 road games.
The Raptors said goodbye to franchise icon Kyle Lowry in the offseason by sending him to Miami in a sign-and-trade deal for veteran point guard Goran Dragic and big man Precious Achiuwa. Dragic started games in the preseason and may do so in the early part of the regular season. Fred VanVleet over Gary Trent Jr. are the other guards. Toronto will be without two big pieces to open the year in Pascal Siakam and Chris Boucher. Siakam had offseason shoulder surgery and is likely at least few weeks away. Boucher will also miss a few weeks after surgery on a dislocated middle finger. Wednesday will be the regular season debut of rookie Scottie Barnes, who was taken with the No. 4 overall pick out of Florida State in this year’s draft.
Toronto finally has a home game. The team and the crowd will be amped and that should be enough to carry them to a win over the Wizards despite not having a couple of key players to start the season. Washington has a new group of players that might take some time for them to gel.
Check out who Bobby Babowski has on his Free NBA Picks page for today.
Pick: Raptors -2.5