Sportsnet, TSN usher in the Raptors return

Coach Nick Nurse has said he enjoys afternoon games. Hopefully fans will as well, as most broadcasts will take place mid-day.

Not even a global pandemic could stop the Toronto Raptors from trying to maintain its reign as NBA champions.

After a series of exhibition games inside the NBA’s Orlando “bubble” (where the Raps continued their impressive streak even without last year’s superstar Kawai Leonard), Round One of the 2020 NBA Playoffs is officially set to begin. The action kicks off this afternoon on Sportsnet at 4 p.m. when the Raptors go against the Brooklyn Nets.

In the best-of-seven series, Sportsnet has the rights to games one, three, five and seven (the latter two will air only if necessary). TSN, meanwhile, will host games two and four and, if necessary, six.

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said that, so far, he’s appreciated that many of the games the team has played in the bubble have been in the afternoon, rather than typical evening games. Hopefully Nurse isn’t the only fan of mid-day games;¬†almost all of the games in round one will be afternoon broadcasts. After today’s first game at 4 p.m., game two (TSN) will take place Wednesday, Aug. 19 at 1 p.m. Game three (Sportsnet) will take place at 1:30 p.m. Game four (TSN), the potentially deciding game, will take place at 6 p.m. The times for games five through seven are not yet determined.

Both networks will feature play-by-play commentary from Matt Devlin. Leo Rautins will provide analysis alongside Devlin for Sportsnet’s games, while Jack “The Coach” Armstrong will provide analysis for TSN’s games.

Sportsnet’s studio hosts and talent will include host Bray Fay, insider Michael Grange and analysts Sherman Hamilton and Alvin Williams. TSN’s in-studio team includes Rod Black, Leo Rautins and Sam Mitchell.¬†Sportsnet’s remote reporters include Danielle Michaud and Eric Smith, while Kate Bierness, Kayla Grey and Josh Lewenberg will serve as reporters for TSN.

Besides the NHL, the NBA is the league that Canadians are excited to see return after months without sports broadcasts, according to Solutions Research Group. Overall, 23% of Canadians said they were most looking forward to the return of basketball – but when zeroing in on the under-30 crowd, that number jumped to 33% (higher than the 29% who were most excitedly awaiting the return of hockey).

Last year’s historic run for the Raptors was also historic ratings; the winning game in 2019 against the Golden State Warriors saw an AMA of 5.1 million viewers, the highest sports broadcast of the year.