The Toronto Raptors have officially been eliminated from playoff contention after the Indiana Pacers beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. This puts an end to the Raptors’ seven year playoff streak, which was tied with the Portland Trailblazers for the NBA’s longest active playoff streak.
But just as the team started to gel in February — finishing the month with a 6-4 record — they were immediately afflicted by a myriad of challenges that heavily contributed to their struggles in March, including a nine-game losing streak.
The Raptors’ players and coaching staff were affected by a COVID-19 outbreak that added further complications to a team that was severely lacking in size at the center position, which was a contributing factor to finishing the month with a 1-13 record.
And while Raptors fans are quick to dismiss this year as a “fake season,” the improved development of the team’s young core — Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and OG Anunoby — alongside young prospects like Gary Trent Jr., Khem Birch, and Malachi Flynn, who was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in April, have some fans excited about the potential for the team’s revenge season next year.
There are only four games left in the regular season but it looks like the organization will be hanging in Tampa for the foreseeable future.
“We’re still gonna operate here [in Tampa] for a while. Just with draft prep and exit interviews, all that stuff,” Nick Nurse said on Monday during media availability. “I don’t see any movement North for quite some time yet.”
This season may not be what the Raptors had in mind at the beginning of the year but the roster has shown flashes of their potential in the latter half of the season, which has Coach Nurse hopeful for next year.
“I’m extremely optimistic. I think we’ve played some of the best teams, maybe better than a lot of teams have to be honest,” he said. “We’ve been missing quite a few pieces along the way, so I think there’s some adjustments that need to be made. But I don’t see them as hard, impossible or anything like that. I think we have an incredible group of talented young guys that’s growing day-by-day.”
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