What Kind of Playoffs Suits the Raptors Best?

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As the NBA heads toward a return this summer, the league offices have reportedly sent out a questionnaire to every general manager asking how best to proceed with the season, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

Aside from assuring the safety of everyone that would be asked to return, the league’s biggest lingering question is how to fairly crown a 2020 NBA Champion.

When the NBA suspended play on March 11 there four teams that had clinched playoff spots — the Bucks, Lakers, Raptors, and Celtics — and only a handful of spots still up for grabs. Toronto sat 6.5 games back of Milwaukee for second in the Eastern Conference, three games up on Boston. Had the playoffs started that day, the Raptors would have played host to the Brooklyn Nets before taking on the winner of the Celtics-76ers series in the conference semifinals.

One idea the NBA has reportedly considered is doing away with the conferences this season and seeding every playoff team one through 16. Under this plan, the No. 3-seeded Raptors would take on the 14th-seeded Grizzlies in Round 1. Assuming Toronto advanced, the Raptors would then play the winner of the Denver-Indiana series, followed likely by LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Semifinals.

Though the Raptors track record against James isn’t pretty — 12-2 all-time — a path through Memphis and Denver is probably easier for Toronto than Brooklyn and Boston, assuming the Celtics topped the 76ers in their opening-round series.

Aaron Rose covers the Toronto Raptors and Canadian basketball for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter @aaronbenrose or on Facebook @AllRaptors.