If some Toronto fans are thinking of making the trip to Montreal to attend the opening game between the Maple Leafs and the Canadiens, Wednesday, October 12 at the Bell Centre, they will have the opportunity to stay in Quebec for a few more days since the Raptors will be in town on Friday, October 14 to face the Boston Celtics in a preseason game.
The announcement was made on Wednesday morning, by the NBA, stating that the Raptors will previously play in Edmonton, on October 2, against the Utah Jazz.
“It's so great to be able to play in front of our fans across Canada again,” Raptors general manager Bobby Webster said. It's a nice reminder, before the start of the new season, that we are Team Canada. We want to make the Raptors fans proud, no matter where they cheer us on.”
For this preseason game in Montreal, it will be a great opportunity for Quebecers to applaud Chris Boucher and Khem Birch in particular. , who are from the Belle Province.
Already, Boucher had the opportunity to play at the Bell Center in 2018 during a meeting between the Raptors and the Brooklyn Nets. He was also given a standing ovation when he entered the game in the fourth quarter.
“It was special, commented Boucher at the end of the game that Toronto had won by a score of 118 to 91. I will always remember it. There are no words to describe this crowd. The fans were so into it. I don't think I've ever seen that in my life. When they started to make waves, everyone got on board.”
A sixth time since 2012
If the Raptors' last presence in Montreal dates back to 2018, it will be the sixth game presented at the Bell Center since the debut of the “NBA Canada Series” in 2012, 10 years ago.
The New York Knicks were first visitors in the first edition before returning in 2014. The Celtics had already come to Montreal in 2013, but then they faced the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Washington Wizards (2015) and the Brooklyn Nets (2018) then faced the Raptors in Montreal, where the Toronto team remains undefeated in four games.
“We are excited to bring Celtics basketball to Montreal fans, commented Boston club president Rich Gotham. We applaud the NBA's continued dedication to growing the sport globally.”
Obviously, the presence of an NBA preseason game in Montreal brings back the debate surrounding a possible expansion. If the Bell Center would indeed be able to host a team one day, it seems obvious that Seattle is at the top of the list, especially since the arrival of the Kraken, in the NHL, and the construction of the Climate Pledge Arena.< /p>
“Expansion, at some point, is somewhat the destiny of the league, commented commissioner Adam Silver, through remarks reported by the daily newspaper “USA Today” in December 2020. I I would say that we have dusted off some of the analyzes on the economic and sporting impacts of the increase in teams. We took a little longer on this than before the pandemic. On the other hand, we are not at the point where it is the priority subject.
– While the Raptors will be in Montreal on October 14, the Canadian will be on the road to face the Red Wings, in Detroit, the same evening.