‘What has happened doesn’t really matter much if we can win a couple’ — Raptors prepare for NBA play-in


Not a lot went right for the Raptors, but Siakam and Anunoby had outstanding seasons

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The key Raptors played a ton of minutes this season and that’s not going to change on Wednesday for the win or go home game against the Chicago Bulls.

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Pascal Siakam led the NBA in minutes per game at 37.4, Fred VanVleet was fifth, O.G. Anunoby 16th, Scottie Barnes 33rd.

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The Raptors hope they have something left in the tank, because they will be called upon early and often, with Jakob Poeltl and Gary Trent Jr. soaking up most of the remaining minutes, likely along with a few for Precious Achiuwa and Chris Boucher, depending on which one is playing well.

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It’s also possible only six Raptors get significant run Wednesday.

Head coach Nick Nurse said after Sunday’s win over Milwaukee to end the regular season that the rotation might be shortened, but a lot of it will depend on things like foul trouble “and other things that happen that can affect the rotation,” Nurse said.

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“But I think the premise going in is you have to play your best guys as much as they can handle really.”

Getting Trent some game action Sunday should help. He’s missed some time and needs to find a rhythm for Wednesday where his shooting will be needed.

Expect the Bulls to also ride their top players hard. They too did it during the regular season. DeMar DeRozan averaged 36.2 minutes per game (eighth in the NBA), Zach LaVine 36.0, Nikola Vucevic 33.5.

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Toronto hasn’t met pre-season expectations this season. Neither has Chicago. Now, one of them will get a chance to still accomplish the bare minimum for each heading into the season — make the playoffs.

“I guess we are where we are right now and what has happened doesn’t really matter much if we can win a couple,” Nurse said of the season as a whole.


  • If you’re scoring at home, Pascal Siakam resoundingly led my three star tally for the season with 83 points, nearly twice as many as second-place finisher Fred VanVleet, who had 42 points from my scientific work. O.G. Anunoby had 36 points, Scottie Barnes 33, Gary Trent 18, Precious Achiuwa 15. Six other Raptors earned at least a single star for a game this season. 
  • I’m surprised how far ahead Siakam was, but I guess that’s why he’s in the running for an All-NBA spot. Barnes needs to be in the Top 2 next season for the Raptors to be where they want to be, in my opinion. Anunoby had a great season.

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  • Was interesting to hear Nurse talk about not only Anunoby’s monster year, but also how well he dealt with all of the trade rumours and was steady throughout. Sometimes we forget the impact being front and centre in the rumour mill can have mentally on players.
  • The Raptors set franchise records for both most steals in a season and fewest turnovers. Consider both of those things as major factors when trying to figure out how a team that can’t shoot at all (bottom four in the NBA in most shooting categories) can finish tied for 12th in offensive efficiency (lots of steals mean lots of easy points on the break/if you don’t make many mistakes, it can make up for some of the shoddy shooting).
  • Congrats to Dwane Casey, who stepped aside Sunday as an NBA head coach to shift into a front office role with the Detroit Pistons. Just in time for Detroit to perhaps grow into an Eastern Conference power (should lottery luck go their way and Cade Cunningham return to full health next season). 
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    • Fun fact: One of DeMarre Carroll’s sons was born in Canada while he was a Raptor. Jonas Valanciunas has a Canadian son too, as do some other former Raptors. Might Canada Basketball have a few players with Raptors bloodlines suiting up for them sometime down the line? You never know.
    • Let’s NBA play-in!

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    1 Precious Achiuwa

    2 Scottie Barnes

    3 Malachi Flynn

    Honourable mention: Jae Crowder, Gary Trent Jr., Dalano Banton


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