Toronto’s championship anniversary is over, and the Raptors finally know what’s in front of them as they get set to defend their title.

The NBA has finally released the schedule for the eight seeding games to be played in Orlando, Florida before the playoffs, and the glass half-full perspective is that the Raptors will be about as well prepared as anyone come playoff time in September. Playoff time in September and October? Is this baseball? No, but it’s all going to take some getting used to.

Currently in control of second seed in the East with a three-game lead over the Boston Celtics, life has been made as difficult as possible to maintain that control. Removing the eight worst teams from the equation was always going to ramp up the competition, and the Raptors will face the best of it the rest of the way. Now, this isn’t some crazy NBA conspiracy as the schedule was made keeping in mind each team’s upcoming schedule. The Raptors are no different with a schedule that’s virtually identical in terms of difficulty to what their eight upcoming games against the 22 teams remaining would have been based on the original 82-game schedule.

RAPTORS’ SEEDING GAMES (STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: 0.639)

Aug. 1 vs. Los Angeles Lakers (49-14)

Aug. 3 vs. Miami Heat (41-24)

Aug. 5 vs. Orlando Magic (30-35)

Aug. 7 vs. Boston Celtics (43-21)

Aug. 9 vs. Memphis Grizzlies (32-33)

Aug. 10 vs. Milwaukee Bucks (53-12)

Aug. 12 vs. Philadelphia 76ers (39-26)

Aug. 14 vs. Denver Nuggets (43-22)

So, what does this all mean in terms of the Raptors’ chances of going back-to-back?

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