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Raptors clinch a playoff spot with victory over Warriors

The Toronto Raptors secured a berth in the 2020 NBA playoffs with a triumph over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

Few fans expected the Raptors to suffer a precipitous drop following the offseason departures of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. The nucleus of the roster remained, so Toronto had the pieces to return to the postseason.

Not even the most diehard fans could’ve foreseen the success the Raptors have enjoyed in 2019-20, though. The team is 44-18 and 1.5 games up on the Boston Celtics for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Although they would be an underdog in a seven-game series versus the Milwaukee Bucks, the Raptors have a genuine shot at repeating as conference champions.

According to, Toronto ranks 12th in offensive rating (111.2) but second in defensive rating (104.9). It speaks both to head coach Nick Nurse and the players themselves that they could lose one of the NBA’s elite defenders (Leonard) yet maintain an elite-level defense.

Nurse famously deployed a box-and-one defense in the 2019 NBA Finals to frustrate Stephen Curry. He has continued to rely on that tactic at times while throwing in a variety of other tactics as well.

Depth and offensive balance are great for managing the workload of the regular season.

The postseason often requires somebody to lead the way, though. 

One reason Toronto toppled the Bucks in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals was the way in which they stifled Giannis Antetokounmpo. The 2019 MVP averaged 22.7 points in the series, compared to 27.4 points in the first two rounds. His field-goal percentage also fell from 52.2 to 44.8.

The Raptors are counting on Siakam to have a Leonard-like role on offense, and it might not be a bad bet. The winner of the Most Improved Player award a year ago, he has taken another step in his fourth season.

Siakam entered play Thursday averaging 23.7 points while shooting 46.1 percent from the floor and 37.0 percent from beyond the arc.

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