The Toronto Raptors are currently in the middle of a dogfight for one of the two play-in spots that could help them extend their playoff streak, with former assistant Nate Bjorkgren and the Indiana Pacers making up one of their more stern challengers. Their ability to win some games just took a major nosedive, however, given the injury concerns around Myles Turner.
Turner is averaging 12.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, but he is also amazing an insane 3.4 blocks per game. If he holds on, he will become the league leader in blocks per game for the second time in three years. Turner, All-Star Domantas Sabonis, and Caris LeVert currently have Indiana in possession of the No. 9 seed in the East
Turner’s reign of paint dominance this season could come to an end, as the Pacers announced that a partial tear of the plantar plate in his right foot will sideline him indefinitely. This is a calamitous detriment to Indiana’s chances.
The Raptors, still within striking distance of not only a play-in spot, but the No. 9 seed in that play-in tournament. With Indiana losing their paint protector, Toronto might be able to sneak up on them in the standings.
The Toronto Raptors could pass the Indiana Pacers
The most likely candidate to replace Turner at center is former first-round pick Goga Bitadze. The gulf in talent between the two, especially on the defensive end, is startling, and it could be destabilizing for Indiana, as so much of what Bjorkgren likes to do on defense revolves around funneling players inside to Turner.
Toronto has been both resting key players and pulling off some amazing victories. In addition to the likes of Gary Trent Jr. and Chris Boucher starting to show out, bench players like Paul Watson and Yuta Watanabe have taken full advantage of their increased minutes by helping lead Toronto to victory.
Toronto ends the regular season on May 16 against these very same Pacers. While the Raptors did make some additions to their frontcourt, including Khem Birch and Freddie Gillespie, playing an Indiana team with Turner would be a nightmare of a matchup. Taking the former Texas star out of lineup makes Toronto’s path to the postseason that much easier.
The Raptors will have to fight off competition from the likes of the upstart Washington Wizards and the struggling Chicago Bulls, but Indiana just has one of their major sticking points sandblasted off. If Toronto has to jockey with Indiana for playoff position, the Turner injury could be a fatal blow.