Raptors Fight to Clinch Playoff Spot Early

The cards didn’t fall in favour of the Toronto Raptors this past Monday.

Even as the Raps are heading towards the most successful season in franchise history, they didn’t receive the help needed to clinch a playoff berth.

They only needed one of Detroit, Chicago or Indiana to lose, but all three were victorious.

The reality is Toronto’s players were probably not even aware of the situation.

Yes, clinching the playoff spot will take a little bit of the pressure off but there is a bigger priority right now – the Cleveland Cavaliers.

After a mediocre start, The Raptors have been steadily gaining ground on the Cavs, who were the overwhelming preseason favourite in the East.

Toronto has posted a 13-4 record since the All-Star break and gone 30-9 since Christmas and sit only 1.5 games behind conference-leading Cleveland.

Becoming the number one seed can mean a lot or nothing depending who you ask.

Naturally, players and coaches would likely downplay it, but it would be a great notch on the belt of the Raptors’ organization and exciting for the fans.

Raptors fans often complain they do not get enough respect from the league or the media.

Overtaking the Cavs would be a great first step but this cannot be another year of “one-and-done” in the playoffs.

The Eastern Conference is the most competitive it has been in years and Toronto is on its way to setting a franchise record in wins.

This is potentially the best squad the Raptors have ever had – and they’ve achieved this without DeMarre Carroll for the majority of the season.

However, there is a huge elephant in the room that is currently sitting in the 8th seed in the East.

The Chicago Bulls.

Those three words may have some Raptors fans squirming in their seats.

The Bulls have swept the season series with Toronto two years in a row and have won nine in a row overall.

Looking back to the 2011-12 season, Chicago has won 14 of 19 against the Raptors.

While these stats are daunting, it is not even a guarantee the Bulls will make the playoffs.

Wherever the Raptors end up in the standings, it is likely the success of this season will be measured by what happens after April 13, not before. 

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