The Toronto Raptors took another step back in their playoff push, falling to the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz in consecutive games. The Raptors now sit in 12th in the East, half a game back of the Bulls and 2 and a half games back of the Washington Wizards.
Although the playoffs now look unlikely, if the Raptors did manage to nab that 10th and final spot who would be their best match-up?
The potential play-in opponents for the Raptors would likely be the Charlotte Hornets in eighth place, Indiana Pacers in ninth, or the Wizards in 10th. The Miami Heat are sliding, but they would wipe the floor with the Raptors.
Although the Chicago Bulls are in the mix as well, one would figure it would only be one of either the Bulls or the Raptors who makes the 10th spot. The Raptors need to hope that they can avoid Miami and match up with one of these three teams.
These 3 Toronto Raptors play-in matchups stand out.
3rd best: Indiana Pacers
If you look at the perspective of “best match-up” from which team is most similar, therefore best suited to play the Raptors, maybe the Pacers could be the ideal match-up in that case. They are a team, like the Raptors, full of young and exciting talent and a strong seasoned core. However, neither team as of yet has what you would call a superstar caliber player.
The Pacers have seasoned veterans such as Myles Turner, but primarily the team relies on exciting, young talent such as Caris LeVert, Malcolm Brogdon, and Domantas Sabonis. In a feel-good story for all and particularly Canadian basketball fans, Oshae Brissett, a Toronto native has been a revelation for the Pacers since joining them after being promoted from G-League.
The Pacers have similarities and connections to the Toronto Raptors
The similarities and connections don’t stop there, however as the Pacers also happen to be coached by ex-Raptors’ assistant coach Nate Bjorkgren. Bjorkgren, being an ex-assistant to NICK Nurse, employs similar fundamentals to those of the Raptors. Specifically, defense-first while still maintaining a high-octane offense and game overall on both ends of the floor.
While this match-up would certainly offer a close game, you could argue their similarities would make them cancel each other out, or it may just be boring basketball because Nurse knows exactly what to do against Bjorkgren and he would get this one over on his old colleague.