- With the 2020-21 NBA season set to start on December 22nd, there’s uncertainty over where the Toronto Raptors will be able to play their home games
- Nashville is an option, but rapid COVID-19 testing could enable the Raps to play in Canada
- See the odds on all potential destinations for Toronto call home next season below
The NBA faces a long list challenges for the 2020-21 regular season, which is due to start on December 22nd. One of the bigger dilemmas facing the league at the moment centers around the Toronto Raptors and where they will play their home games.
This is similar to the problems faced by the Blue Jays for the shortened 2020 MLB season. The Blue Jays used their affiliate’s stadium in Buffalo to avoid having to repeatedly cross the border between the US and Canada throughout the season.
The table below has the latest odds on the location of the Raptors’ home games in 2020-21.
Odds on Where Raptors Will Play Home Games for 2020-21 NBA Season
Odds taken on November 10th
Latest Information of Potential Hosts
Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports reported on October 22nd that the NBA and Raptors could view Louisville as an option. The odds show this is no more than a longshot at this stage, though the premise of finding somewhere with an NBA-ready arena is relevant.
More recently, on November 7th, Adam Vingan of The Athletic, claimed Raptors team officials visited Nashville. Bridgestone Arena would the Raps’ home venue if they opt for Tennessee, which is home to the Nashville Predators and hosts the SEC’s men’s basketball tournament. This option ticks the box of an NBA-ready facility, and it would place the Raptors in a city that does not currently have an NBA team.
New: Nashville being considered as temporary home for Toronto Raptors.https://t.co/hm1A8qoCl0
— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) November 7, 2020
Playing in a city with an established fanbase for a team could be an issue if fans are allowed in later in the season. Putting the Raptors in Nashville for a season would be easy to market – it’s a unique opportunity for people in the city to see an NBA team. The same, of course, goes for other cities in the odds table above.
Rapid Testing in Toronto?
Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, is open to introducing rapid testing for international travellers. This would allow people to avoid the current 14-day quarantine requirement. The scheme, which is being piloted at Calgary International Airport and the Coutts border crossing, requires a test upon arrival in the country.
If that rapid test comes back negative, the person does not have to quarantine but will need to do another test in six or seven days.
Ford is open to introducing rapid testing in Toronto, which could enable the Raptors to play at Scotiabank Arena. He said, “Calgary, it doesn’t get the volume, number one, but doesn’t get the diversification around the world. Everyone lands in Toronto, you know, so I’ve been on this from day one of this pandemic we should be testing people right as soon as they get off that plane.”
With the NBA season starting next month, there’s very limited time for rapid testing to be introduced.
Training camps kick off at the start of December, and the Raptors will want to have settled into their 2020-21 home by then.
Bet on Buffalo
The facilities in Nashville are an important factor in any decision from the Raptors. News about rapid testing gives them a better chance of playing in Toronto than it seemed just a few weeks’ ago. Does playing in Canada, even without fans, help the Raptors’ 2021 NBA championship odds?
As we weigh up the betting market, though, we must consider what the NBA are wanting to do next season. They are going to minimize travel, and could load up on games against division rivals. With that in mind, it makes sense to find a location for the Raps in the northeast. Teams could play the Knicks, Nets, Sixers, Celtics and Raptors in one trip if the Raps were based in Buffalo.
New York State Senator Timothy Kennedy sent a letter to Masai Ujiri and Adam Silver asking the Raptors to play in Buffalo if they need to re-home temporarily. Whether Kennedy’s efforts will impact decision making or not is unknown, but KeyBank Center is a suitable venue for NBA basketball and Buffalo makes sense geographically.
Joe Biden’s election win should help the US get the pandemic under control, which should help with international travel. Biden will not have any significant impact before the start of the NBA season, though, meaning the Raptors will almost certainly begin the 2020-21 season playing their home games in the US.
Pick: Buffalo (+500)