Toronto Raptors: Time to accept home court advantage isn’t a priority

Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors runs down the floor in the first half against the Washington Wizards. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors runs down the floor in the first half against the Washington Wizards. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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By sitting Kawhi Leonard at this stage of the regular season, the Toronto Raptors have made their intentions perfectly clear when it comes to catching the Milwaukee Bucks in the standings.

As reported by Sportsnet, Kawhi Leonard will sit out Sunday’s game between the Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons. In theory, this is no big deal.

After all, it continues the Raptors’ season long approach with Leonard. After playing just nine games last season for the San Antonio Spurs, the plan is to make sure he is as healthy and rested as possible when the postseason begins.

Further, it’s not as if the Raptors have struggled without the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Entering Sunday’s game, the team has gone 13-4 when he doesn’t play.

There is also the consideration that the team is facing an average Detroit Pistons team, which is just 30-31 in the standings. However, when you consider that the Pistons beat the Raptors earlier in the season in Toronto, this alludes to the danger of the ongoing approach with Leonard.

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With 19 games remaining for the Raptors entering Sunday’s action, they sit just two back of the Milwaukee Bucks. Theoretically, now is the time to play Leonard more and go all-out to catch and overtake the Bucks in the standings, to clinch the number one seed in the Eastern Conference.

And yet, the Raptors would still rather sit Leonard. As far as they are concerned, the postseason is when it counts; when the three-time All-Star will play in every game.

Toronto is essentially saying they don’t need home court advantage in the postseason to beat the Bucks. However, there is one potential major issue with this approach.

Consider that the Bucks won the regular season series against the Raptors, 3-1. Even accounting for the fact Leonard sat out one of the losses, they were still only 1-2 in the games he played.

No doubt people will note that the Raptors’ one win came in Milwaukee, while they lost both games in Toronto. Regardless, Nick Nurse’s team still need every advantage they can get when facing the Bucks, and this should include having home court advantage.

We’re too deep into the regular season for teams to be underestimating a Bucks team which currently has the best record in the entire NBA. And yet that’s essentially what is still happening, despite the presence of this season’s MVP elect in Giannis Antetokounmpo.

There is no doubt Leonard can take his game to another level come playoff time. (Look no further than his 2014 NBA Finals MVP award as prime evidence.) We also expect the same from the likes of Marc Gasol and Danny Green.

Regardless, we can’t help being concerned that the Raptors are playing a dangerous game when it comes to the Bucks. Certainly, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

dark. Next. Take Kawhi's comments with a pinch of salt

Do you agree with the Toronto Raptors’ approach for the remainder of the regular season? Or are you concerned it could prove costly come playoff time? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.