Early sked hard on Raptors

The Toronto Raptors will be happy to know that they will play 29 of their final 51 games at home to...

The Toronto Raptors will be happy to know that they will play 29 of their final 51 games at home to end the 2006-07 NBA regular season. (Toronto Sun File/Dave Abel)

RYAN WOLSTAT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:32 AM ET

The NBA schedule, released yesterday, brought good news and bad news for the Toronto Raptors.

The good news is 29 of their final 51 games, including 10 out of 15 January contests, are at home.

The bad news is the club's early season schedule is so brutal that the team might be out of playoff contention again long before the new year.

The Raptors play 19 of their first 31 games away from the Air Canada Centre, including a five-game western trip in mid-November with stops in California, Colorado and Utah.

The team will head west again in December with dates in Phoenix, Los Angeles (Clippers), Portland and Seattle.

Last season, a road-heavy early schedule was a key factor in the team's crippling 1-15 start.

Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant will have to wait until Christmas to renew acquaintances, but the Raptors will see some old friends very quickly next season.

The club travels to the swamps of New Jersey for a Nov. 1 date with Vince Carter and the Nets -- the first road opener for the team since 2001.

Fans at the Air Canada Centre will get a chance to welcome back two of their favourite departed sons, Charlie Villanueva of the Milwaukee Bucks and Matt Bonner of the San Antonio Spurs, on Nov. 3 and 5, respectively.

Other notable home dates include two-time league MVP Steve Nash's lone appearance in Canada with the high-flying Phoenix Suns on Jan. 3; the return of Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Mike James on Dec. 27; visits by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers Nov. 22 and Feb. 21; and the lone Toronto appearance of O'Neal, Dwyane Wade and the NBA champion Miami Heat on March 28.


Videos

Photos