Toronto Raptors Lose, But Maybe Not In the Long Run


Toronto Raptors Lose, But Maybe Not In the Long Run

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The Toronto Raptors played three tight games on the road during the past week. They edged the Orlando Magic 101-99 last Friday, took down the Miami Heat 107-104 the following evening and succumbed 95-93 to Boston last night. They outscored each team in the fourth quarter, and playing in these close games on the road better prepares them for the playoffs.


Speaking of the playoffs, the Raptors and their fans may have trouble getting too excited, considering that their last postseason series victory was back in 2001 – a whole 14 years ago! And that one victory (versus the New York Knicks) was in a five-game series, a format which no longer even exist. So the Toronto Raptors, in their 20th year of existence, have never won a seven-game playoff round.

May 4, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry (7) is stopped by Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce (34) on the final play of the game in game seven of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre. The Nets beat the Raptors 104-103. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The closest they came was when Vince Carter‘s last-second shot clanked off the rim against Philadelphia, a team who went on to the NBA Finals. Then last year, Kyle Lowry drove for the win in another game 7 and he was not awarded a foul on the play (image, right) against former champion-veteran Paul Pierce. (No one was surprised Lowry didn’t get the call). And a season with such promise ended with the Brooklyn Nets winning, after famously tanking to draw the Raps instead of the Chicago Bulls.

Well, now how the tables have turned….

Winners of the Atlantic Division, Toronto is guaranteed one of the first four seeds. With Atlanta running away with the Eastern Conference, and Cleveland being on fire during the second-half of the season, that leaves Toronto with the third of fourth seed.

The Milwaukee Bucks or the Washington Wizards, respectively, are the opponents, depending on if the Raptors finish third or fourth. Both teams are tough in their own ways. Milwaukee is a matchup nightmare with their defense, size, length, and ability to create turnovers (pictured right, Giannis Antetokounmpo). Also, Bucks’ coach Jason Kidd beat the Raptors last year, while in charge of the Nets.

Washington, with Wall’s creativity, seem to always find the open shooter. Can Lowry stop Wall? The good thing for the Raptors is that they can defend by committee, with several players able to switch onto Wall, whether it be Lou Williams or Greivis Vasquez. Or they can go big on Wall (pictured below right) with Terrence Ross or even James Johnson, who has covered smaller guards this season. Wall’s speed, however, may not be able to be stopped. Slowed down though, yes.

From a matchup standpoint, Washington is probably favourable. The Raptors record this year versus the Bucks is 2-1 – so pretty good. Although the last meeting was a loss. How about against Washington? The Raptors had an unblemished 3-0 record, although none of these games weren’t recent.

So maybe a loss versus Boston on Tuesday night wasn’t the worst thing that could happen. And a loss tonight versus Charlotte – Fan Appreciation Day notwithstanding – is also not a bad thing. The past week has shown the Raptors that they can play on the road. And these closely contested games with strong efforts on opponents’ courts have prepared these Raps for a playoff push.

Next: Raptors aiming to achieve future success