Raptors Roaring Towards Playoffs: Raptors look for first playoff appearance in six years
By Brady Stark
The Toronto Raptors are inching closer and closer to their first playoff berth since the 2007-08 season when they were beat by the Orlando Magic in the first round, 4 games to 1. The raptors came into the season with high hopes because of their acquisition of Rudy Gay and the trading of Andrea Bargnani in separate deals. Bargnani was thought to be a diva and a distraction and Gay was thought to be the franchise’s next Vince Carter. Masai Ujiri, the general manager of the Raptors, had other plans for Rudy Gay. The team shipped Gay, Quincy Acy, and Aaron Gray to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for John Salmons, Greivis Vásquez, Patrick Patterson, and Chuck Hayes. These trades, as well as some signings in the off-season, has now given Ujiri the team that he wanted going forward. Raptors fans were a little perplexed at the Gay trade but have now seen the fruits of Ujiri’s labour. Before the Rudy Gay trade, the Raptors were 6-12 to start the season, then went to an astounding 10-3 afterwards. The Raptors now hold onto the third spot in the NBA’s eastern conference and are gearing up for a possible playoff run. However, it must be noted that their record is now only 28-24, and if they were in the western conference they would be clinging onto the last playoff spot with Memphis nipping at their heels.
Despite the good fortune of being in a much weaker conference, the Raptors are a team playing with a lot of confidence after the NBA all-star break. They now have players such as DeMar Derozen and Kyle Lowry playing lights out with both having career high years. DeMar Derozen is only the fourth player in the franchise’s history to be named to the All-star roster and hopes to continue the torrid pace for the rest of the season. With 23 games left in the regular season, the Raptors need to continue to grind out the close games and use their depth on the bench to their advantage. Players like Patrick Patterson, who is a 6ft 9 center who has only started 10 games for the Raptors so far but gives them the most rebounds per game as well as adds an average of 9.6 points per game, demonstrate their prowess. Obviously, like many of the teams in the NBA, championships and playoff appearances are won on the backs of your star players, but the Raptors are challenging that mold and looking to make a run for the NBA title. Interesting times are ahead for Raptors fans as the season nears its conclusion, will it be another disappointing finish or will a post-season appearance be in the cards? Only time will tell.